Network reorganizes staff, hands out pink slips

ABC has finally announced its new entertainment executive structure under ABC Entertainment Group prexy Steve McPherson.

As part of the reorg, several staffers received pinkslips Wednesday. ABC declined to comment on how many network and studio employees were let go, but it’s believed to be in the low double digits.

ABC has opted to eliminate its current programming department. Kim Rozenfeld, who served as senior VP of current, wasn’t accounted for in Wednesday’s announcement — but network insiders said Rozenfeld is hammering out a producing deal that would keep him at the Alphabet.

All of the other execs departing the network as of Wednesday were at the vice president level or below.

Meanwhile, as expected, the structure will streamline the number of direct reports to McPherson (Daily Variety, May 28).

On the programming front, ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios will keep separate creative teams. ABC confirmed the long-running speculation that Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs would head up scripted development on the network side, while Barry Jossen would similarly head up the studio.

Beyond that, business affairs, business development, casting, program planning, scheduling and distribution will cover both network and studio operations.

According to the announcement, McPherson’s key lieutenants will include longtime planning, scheduling and distribution exec VP Jeff Bader; studio creative and production exec VP Jossen; network scripted exec VP Patmore-Gibbs; business planning and development VP Mia Rondinella; and business affairs/administration exec VP Jana Winograde.

Alternative series/specials/latenight senior VPs Vicki Dummer and John Saade also continue to report to McPherson, as do casting exec VP Keli Lee and marketing exec VPs Mike Benson and Marla Provencio.

All of the above execs now take “ABC Entertainment Group” titles, reflecting the January decision to merge ABC’s entertainment division with ABC Studios under McPherson.

“The new organization will strengthen our position as a top quality content engine and promote a healthier business model to sustain it,” McPherson said. “The structural changes we have put in place ensure a cohesive vision from a creative, production and business standpoint, and will make us a stronger, more efficient team more seamlessly focused on common goals.”

Now, under the new setup, ABC Studios drama exec Channing Dungey will jump to the network side, serving as senior VP of drama under Patmore-Gibbs. Also reporting to Patmore-Gibbs: Samie Kim Falvey, who continues as senior VP of comedy; and movies and minis senior VP Quinn Taylor, who will now also oversee acquisitions for the Alphabet.

With no separate current programming department, Patmore-Gibbs and her team will be responsible for both development and current for all scripted programming.

On the studio side, under Jossen will be drama series senior VP Josh Barry, who leaps from the network side; comedy series senior VP Kevin Plunkett; production senior VP Gary French; post-production senior VP Paula Warner; and music VP Dawn Soder.

Winograde’s oversight includes all deals and business related to development and acquisition of primetime and latenight fare, as well as marketing and ABC.com. She also oversees the business behind the development, production and licensing for network, cable and syndie programming.

Reporting to Winograde are studio business affairs exec VP Howard Davine, network scripted business affairs senior VP Jennifer Mayo, alternative business affairs VP Kerry Kennedy and music-business/legal affairs senior VP Peter DiCecco.

Disney-ABC TV Group first announced the decision to hand oversight of ABC Studios to McPherson in January. But with the network and studio busy with pilot season, the conglom opted to wait until after the May upfronts before putting together a new exec structure.

As part of the change, former ABC Studios prexy Mark Pedowitz was shifted into a role as senior adviser to Disney’s Anne Sweeney.

Having previously served as president of then-Touchtone TV, McPherson was already very familiar with the Alphabet’s studio division when he was handed oversight of the unit. ABC Studios is already behind key ABC series including “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Brothers and Sisters.”

The studio only landed two of ABC’s seven new fall series this year — but with both sides now fully integrated under the ABC Entertainment Group umbrella, it’s likely that more of the Alphabet’s development next season will be generated inhouse.

ABC’s decision to maintain separate creative teams for the network and studio contrasts with the strategy at NBC, which last season opted to merge both sides together under a single team. Several top-level NBC execs were axed in that shift, while the ABC exits were mostly of lower-level execs.

The Disney-ABC TV Group previously cut about 400 positions in January, repping 4% of the TV group’s total workforce. Cuts included 200 staffers and another 200 empty posts.

Rozenfeld had been at ABC since 2005. Before that, he worked in series development and programming at VH1. He was also a producer and director on the laffer “Two Guys and a Girl” and ran his own production company, Half Full Entertainment.

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