CBS latest to lay off staff

Industry expects another round of layoffs in Jan.

It was CBS’ turn to hand out pinkslips Monday, laying off staffers at both CBS Entertainment and CBS Paramount Network TV.

Top execs exiting include CBS Par exec VP Maria Crenna, as well as the studio’s comedy senior VP Brian Banks, both of whom are departing after 11 years at the Eye.

Several midlevel and lower staffers also are exiting; all told, the layoffs are believed to have been in the lower double digits.

That’s below the number of recent cuts at NBC U, but still the latest in what’s been a rough couple of weeks for the business, as congloms brace for a brutal 2009. And it’s not over: The industry is expecting another round of deep layoffs come January.

As for CBS, it’s believed that Monday’s cuts are the extent of it — for now.

CBS Entertainment’s cuts were said not to involve the net’s comedy, drama or alternative development departments, although the net’s current department lost a few staffers.

CBS Par’s axings also included several in the current programming department — including veepee Jocelyn Freid.

Meanwhile, despite the studio exec departures, a CBS insider said the conglom had no plans to merge its network and studio operations — something NBC did last week and a move ABC is said to be mulling.

Crenna and Banks had been a part of CBS topper Leslie Moonves’ inner circle since his days running Warner Bros. TV, where Crenna handled comedy development (and Banks served as her assistant).

Both execs moved to CBS Prods. in 1997; Crenna worked her way up to exec VP there, while Banks was VP of comedy. When CBS Prods. and Paramount Network TV merged in 2004, Crenna segued to the exec VP post there, under prexy David Stapf, while Banks took over comedy development for the combined entity.

Banks’ replacement as studio comedy head has not yet been named.

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