Shapiro to spearhead initiatives between corporate divisions

HOLLYWOOD — For newly installed Fox TV Studios chief Angela Shapiro, the mandate is clear: Play nice with your News Corp. siblings.

Shapiro knows a thing or two about corporate synergy, having spent the past eight years at Disney/ABC — where she spearheaded several initiatives between corporate divisions (such as “Super Soap Weekend” at the Disney/MGM Studios theme park).

The exec, whose appointment was officially announced Thursday, will now be asked to work that same kind of magic at Fox TV Studios.

“I’m a big believer of taking advantage of the strengths of your family,” Shapiro said. “Otherwise, there is no benefit to belonging to a strong, powerful company like News Corp. Whether or not that’s something I was told to do, I don’t know how to not do that.”

Shapiro replaces David Grant, who was let go last week after seven years with the company. Founded in 1997, Fox TV Studios oversees News Corp.’s investment in Regency TV (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “Bernie Mac”) and also produces reality skeins, longforms (FX’s “44 Minutes”), international projects (via Fox World) and documentaries through various “pods.”

But insiders said the conglom felt that the boutique operation wasn’t doing enough to work with sister companies like Fox Broadcasting and 20th Television — hence Shapiro’s arrival.

Move reunites Shapiro with new Regency TV head Robin Schwartz, who served as a programming exec under Shapiro at ABC Family. Shapiro said she was also drawn to the chance at working with News Corp. prexy and chief operating officer Peter Chernin, to whom she’ll report.

Left Disney last year

Shapiro left Disney late last year after an organizational shuffle moved the ABC Family domain under Disney Channel execs. She first joined ABC as senior VP of marketing and promotion in 1995, moving to ABC Daytime as prexy in 1998.

She added duties as prexy of Buena Vista Prods. in 2000, handling syndie, cable and daytime programming. While there, she brought in Kelly Ripa as Regis Philbin’s new co-host on “Live” and developed the syndie strip of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Shapiro then took over ABC Family in 2002, when Disney bought the property from Fox. Before her move into television, Shapiro co-founded Soap Opera Digest and launched Soap Opera Update magazines.

The exec, who begins work May 24, said it was too soon to discuss how she might approach the Fox TV Studios job, and how the operation might change. Exec said she wasn’t concerned by the launch of 20th Century Fox TV’s new Fox21 division (Daily Variety, May 5), which will take a similar approach to low-cost, broadcast and cable development.

“I have to believe the mandate across the company has to be to find ways to cut costs in production,” she said. “My hope is going forward that we not only produce ourselves, but we also continue to co-produce with 20th and now Fox21. The more smart people you have working to solve problems, the stronger the overall company will be.”

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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