A&E names Sabinson sr. VP, programming

Focus to be nonfiction, cross-promotion

NEW YORK — Allan Sabinson, the consultant who has helped A&E ramp up its production of original movies since summer 1997, has joined the network full time as senior VP of programming.

Although Sabinson, 49, has focused on scripted movies, he’ll take charge of all of A&E’s nonfiction programming, including its “Biography” series.

The most promotable specials on A&E are the original movies such as “Dash & Lilly,” “The Crossing,” “The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery,” “Thin Air” and the forthcoming adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” featuring Mira Sorvino. As a consultant, Sabinson had a hand in developing all of them.

Cross-promo plans

A&E will become more active in cross promoting its movies and non-fiction programming, Sabinson says. For example, when “The Great Gatsby” premieres later this season, the “Biography” series will do a profile of Fitzgerald.

More of these pics are in the works, said Sabinson, and one of the original mysteries could lead to a weekly hourlong series — “a bigger financial challenge than almost anything else we’ve ever done,” he said.

According to Sabinson, A&E commissions its movies from four sources: Jaffe-Braunstein, Granada, Sony and Hallmark. He declined to be more specific about financial details, but sources say A&E ponies up about two-thirds of the production cost of its movies, which range between $3 million-$5 million. On most of its deals, A&E gets exclusive Western Hemisphere rights (the U.S., Canada and South America) to the pics for which it puts up majority financing.

Reporting to Sabinson are Ed Hersh and CarolAnne Dolan, co-VPs of documentary programming; Delia Fine, VP of film, drama and performing-arts programs; and Barry Schulman, VP of programming and program strategy. Sabinson in turn reports to Dan Davids, A&E exec VP and G.M.

Previously, Sabinson was Miramax Films prexy of production, TNT exec VP of original programming and ABC exec VP for movies and miniseries.

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