Samples steps down over Boston fiasco

Jim Samples has resigned as exec VP-general manager of the Cartoon Network, in effect falling on his sword to atone for the net’s disastrous promotional stunt that threw the city of Boston into apanic Jan. 30.

In a statement, Samples said, “I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch.”

Cartoon ran a guerrilla marketing campaign in which it placed battery-powered boards with flashing lights outlining characters in its returning series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” on road signs and bridge spans and in subway stations.

With cities on edge over potential terrorist attacks, the Boston police shut down large parts of the city, treating the cabler’s electronic devices as potential explosives. Early last week, the net agreed to pony up $2 million to reimburse the city for the disruption.

Mark Lazarus, president of the Turner Entertainment Group, thanked Samples in a statement for taking ultimate responsibility for the unfortunate incident, praising his 13 years as a Cartoon Network executive.

For the time being, the net will not name an interim replacement for Samples. Senior executives in charge of programming, marketing and sales will report to Lazarus until he names a successor.

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