Par picks pair for TV prexys

Hart, Berman to o'see prod'n arm, int'l units, syndie biz

Viacom on Thursday moved to fill the void left by the departure of Paramount TV Group topper Kerry McCluggage, splitting most of his responsibilities between two veteran Par execs already in the studio fold: Garry Hart and Joel Berman.

Hart has been upped to prexy of Paramount Television Production, adding Viacom Prods. and Big Ticket Television to his portfolio while continuing to oversee Par’s network TV production arm.

Berman will be prexy of Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution, which will now encompass Par’s international TV and international pay TV units as well as domestic syndication.

Both execs will report to Viacom Entertainment Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen, who announced the expected promotions Thursday (Daily Variety, Jan. 11).

The one wrinkle in the announcement: Spelling Television, which previously reported to McCluggage and the Par TV Group, now will be a unit of the Viacom Entertainment Group and report directly to Dolgen.

Dolgen said he “thought long and hard about how to” restructure Par post-McCluggage. He ultimately decided the execs he already knew were stronger than any potential external candidates.

“Where else am I going to go?” Dolgen told Daily Variety. “I was pleased with the way the operations have been able to work together over the years, and I thought it was a good thing to stay with our people. They have many great strengths and complement each other well.”

Aaron’s brother

Dolgen said he decided to keep Spelling under his direct control because he wanted “a chance to work with Aaron again.”

“Aaron and I have a long-term personal friendship and relationship that goes back two decades,” Dolgen said. “It felt like the right thing to do.”

Both Hart and Berman predicted little impact from the reorganization.

“It’s the same team, except Kerry isn’t here,” Hart said. “The goal hasn’t changed. We don’t want to be in the pilot business; we want to be in the series business.”

Maximizing value

Berman acknowledged the current difficulties of the international TV biz, which he said were even more challenging than the also-depressed domestic syndie biz. He did, however, predict benefits from merging international and domestic.

“Having (them) under one roof gives us a chance to look at all of our assets and determine a strategy to maximize their value,” he said.

Before his promotion, Hart had been prexy of Par Network Television for the past eight years. He previously had been senior VP of current programs for Universal Television, working on skeins such as “Miami Vice” and “Quantum Leap.”

Berman was upped to prexy of Paramount Domestic Television last April; he had been co-prexy since 1997. He’s been with Par since 1980, joining as VP/eastern division manager.

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