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Fox shakes up TV executives

Kurtzman, Nicholson Salke named exec VP's

Twentieth Century Fox TV finally took the wraps off its long-expected executive restructuring on Thursday, promoting lieutenants Howard Kurtzman and Jennifer Nicholson Salke while naming new heads of comedy and drama.

Kurtzman, the studio’s business and legal affairs honcho, has been promoted to exec veep of 20th Century Fox TV, signing a new long-term deal in the process. Meanwhile, as first hinted at last month (Daily Variety, Jan. 16), Nicholson Salke will oversee both comedy and drama development at the studio as exec VP of creative affairs.

Nicholson Salke was previously head of drama. With her promotion, drama development senior VP Patrick Moran takes over the department. Also, the studio confirmed that Fox network comedy exec Jonathan Davis will now oversee laffers at the studio as senior VP, replacing the recently departed Quan Phung.

The moves were all announced by 20th Century Fox TV chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, to whom Kurtzman and Nicholson Salke report.

Kurtzman will continue to oversee 20th’s business and legal affairs, handling all of the studio’s talent deals, license agreements and business contracts. But his domain will now also include shortform content creation, and he has been charged with growing the studio’s thriving animation business.

Also on Kurtzman’s plate: expanding 20th’s alternative production arm, Fox21.

“Recognizing that Howard is our go-to person on the business side, we need him to take a greater role in all aspects of our business,” Newman said. “He is always looking for ways to rethink business as usual and grow our assets in innovative ways.”

As for Nicholson Salke, Newman and Walden noted that the line between comedy and drama has blurred — and that they were looking to tap the longtime drama exec’s skills for all programming, not just that genre.

“Jennifer’s a gifted development exec,” Walden said. “Network execs trust her and rely on her. We’re hoping to bring to our comedy area some of the leadership skills she brought to drama.”

As for the comedy department shakeup, Walden noted the ongoing difficulties the entire industry is facing with the sitcom form.

“While the team we had in place did really interesting and respectable work, it’s time to infuse that department with a fresh point of view,” Walden said.

Newman said he had a “tremendous amount of faith” in new department heads Moran and Davis.

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