McKairnes to CBS cable post

Executive to help oversee expansion

CBS Paramount Network TV is looking to dramatically bolster its programming output on the cable front, bringing in a second exec to handle the department.

The Eye-owned studio has hired former CBS exec Jim McKairnes to help oversee that expansion. As senior VP, cable development and strategic planning, McKairnes will work alongside cable programming and movies senior VP Bela Bajaria.

McKairnes will be charged with developing comedies, scouting out international formats and researching multiplatform opportunities for basic and premium cable.

He reports to CBS Paramount Network TV prexy David Stapf.

“I worked with Jim for years on the network side and have always admired and respected his intuition for what makes good programming and for what audiences want to watch,” Stapf said.

CBS Paramount set up a dedicated department for cable programming in 2006, when CBS exec Bajaria moved to the studio and started scouting for lower-cost pay- and basic-cable scripted fare. Company, which had produced “The 4400” for USA, also is behind A&E’s original drama “The Cleaner,” starring Benjamin Bratt.

Other projects the studio’s cable side has in the works include Sci Fi’s two-hour pilot “Revolutions,” from Ed Redlich, John Bellucci and Simon West.

CBS Par also is developing drama projects such as “Bicoastal” (Showtime), “Covenants” (FX) and “Sheiks of Polk County” (AMC). CBS Par has the comedy “Jingle” in the works for Showtime.

“The demand for original programming on cable networks is growing,” Stapf said. “Our goal is to service those needs and develop valuable content assets for the company in the process.”

McKairnes returns to CBS after a short stint at Discovery Communications, where he oversaw scheduling and planning for the Maryland-based company’s 11 networks.

Prior to Discovery, the exec spent 13 years at CBS, working his way up from a job in current programming to senior VP of program planning and scheduling. Exec is well-known for his encyclopedic knowledge of TV’s past and was long CBS’ go-to guy for historical data.

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