Inside Move: Drama development topper ankles Eye

McKinnon exits CBS

Some dramatic changes are in the works at the normally stable CBS exec suites.

Laverne McKinnon, a longtime Eye staffer who’s headed up the net’s drama development since 2004, has left the network. A CBS rep confirmed McKinnon’s departure, citing “family reasons.”

During her 10-year tenure at the Eye, McKinnon had a hand in developing skeins such as “Without a Trace,” “Criminal Minds,” “Numbers” and “Cold Case.”

Exec had been on a leave of absence since mid-August, when she and Eye entertainment prexy Nina Tassler jointly decided McKinnon would go on leave to deal with unspecified family matters. The expectation was that McKinnon would return by the fall.

While she was on leave, McKinnon’s father became ill and ultimately passed away. McKinnon recently told Tassler she wouldn’t be coming back to CBS.

In a statement, McKinnon said she was grateful to CBS for the net’s “support over the past 10 years and particularly during the time I spent caring for my father in his last months.” She said execs at the net “have accepted my decision to make my leave of absence permanent while I tend to family matters.”

Tassler said McKinnon “has played a key role in the development of several of the great dramas that populate our schedule. We … certainly respect that she is taking the time to focus on something far more important than television.”

McKinnon’s original leave of absence came during the height of drama development season. Her two deputies, Christina Davis and Robert Zotnowski, have overseen the day-to-day affairs of the department, with Tassler getting involved in major deals and decisions.

There’s no word on a replacement for McKinnon. Other than confirming McKinnon’s departure for family reasons, a CBS rep declined comment on the matter.

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