20th TV programs prez

Dalton tapped p'gramming prexy, reunites with Cook

Twentieth Television has tapped former Fireworks and Eyemark exec Robb Dalton as prexy of programming. He starts at the company’s Fox Plaza offices in Century City on Monday.

The hire is significant, as Twentieth, Fox’s syndie arm, is stepping up its programming output to accommodate the increased needs of the Fox TV Stations, which recently acquired 10 major-market stations from Chris Craft.

Move reunites Dalton with Twentieth Television prexy-COO Bob Cook — to whom Dalton will report — as the two worked together for five years at CBS’ former syndie arm Eyemark.

Dalton will oversee the company’s development of firstrun programming to be aired on the Fox Television station group and for the national TV marketplace. He’ll also be responsible for current programming and production of all Twentieth Television firstrun product, including “Divorce Court,” “Power of Attorney” and “Texas Justice.”

Twentieth’s existing programming staff, led by Cliff Lachman, exec VP of programming and development, will report to Dalton, whose position previously was last held by Greg Nathanson, who left the company in 1998.

Dalton said the first order of business for him will be a lot of homework, working with Twentieth and Fox station execs to analyze the needs of the station group and then looking at the shows that Lachman’s group has been developing.

“The mantra is straightforward: We need daily programs. That’s going to be our focus,” Dalton said.

That emphasis on daily programs, or strips, will mark a departure from Dalton’s most recent successes. While serving as prexy of Fireworks Television since summer 2000, he worked on the upcoming weekly action hour “Mutant X,” which Fireworks is producing with Tribune Entertainment. And as a development and production exec at Eyemark, some of his most successful work also was in weekly hours, such as “Pensacola: Wings of Gold.”

During his time at Eyemark, however, he did help transition “Martha Stewart Living” from a weekly show to a daily syndie skein.

“In this last year, I spent a lot of time on scripted programs, dramatic shows, like ‘Mutant X.’ Bob (Cook) and Mitch (Stern, chairman-CEO of Fox TV Stations) said there will be opportunities for that kind of work in the future,” Dalton said. “Fox stations is a big group with a lot of daypart needs. But I do get the message loud and clear that the priority is helping Fox stations fill their needs Monday through Friday.”

Prior to CBS, Dalton was prexy of Pinnacle Entertainment, and he also served as prexy-G.M. of the Kansas Television Network, among other posts.

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