Writer/producer Bryce Zabel will take over as chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences this October.
The TV academy’s executive committee and 67 governors held elections for its 2001-2003 leadership at the org’s North Hollywood headquarters Wednesday night. Zabel, whose credits include “Dark Skies” and the TV version of “The Crow,” defeated Jeff Cole, the director of UCLA’s Center for Communication Policy, in a closely-watched election.
Besides Zabel, the academy also elected Tribune Entertainment prexy Dick Askin as first vice chair; production designer John Shaffner as second vice chair; producer Daniel H. Birman as secretary; sound technician and ex-ATAS president Leo Chaloukian as treasurer; and KCOP archive manager Mitch Waldow as Los Angeles area vice chair.
The race to replace chairman/CEO Meryl Marshall-Daniels, who was obligated to step down after serving two consecutive two-year terms, had grown rancorous in recent weeks.
The debate began after Cole was selected in June by the Academy’s nominating committee as its pick for chairman. Some org members questioned whether Cole was eligible to run for the office under a bylaw that requires a chairman to have been active in national production over the past two years.
Cole, who runs the org’s bylaws committee, was later found to pass muster.
Allegations also arose over whether Cole may have exaggerated his production credits when applying for the position. Producer John Rich (“The Dick Van Dyke Show”) questioned Cole’s resume, which said he worked full time helping run Rich’s firm while also teaching a course at UCLA.
At stake were the reins of an org in transition. Not only will Zabel help oversee the academy, along with org prexy Jim Chabin, as it renegotiates its Emmy broadcast rights, but ATAS may also soon begin talks with its estranged East Coast cousins at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences about a potential reunification.
During her tenure as chairman, Marshall-Daniels (who also runs Two Oceans Entertainment) inaugurated a host of initiatives such as new educational outreach programs and expanded membership activities.
“Serving as chairman the past four years has been not only an honor but an extremely rewarding experience,” Marshall-Daniels said. “We are very proud of the programs that have been put into place. I am confident that the passion and commitment of the new leadership will become evident as they build upon the foundation that is in place and lead ATAS into the future.”