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The ‘Conan’ deal

Dealmakers Impact Report 2010

Sandra Dewey
Senior VP – head of business affairs Turner Entertainment Networks and Cartoon Network Originals
When TBS topper Steve Koonin decided to pitch his network as a new home for Conan O’Brien, he turned to Dewey. In a matter of a few days, Dewey put together a deal designed to give O’Brien freedom to do the show he wanted as long as it made sense for TBS. In her role, she’s also put together deals for successful recent series, including “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Men of a Certain Age” and “Memphis Beat.”
KEY DEAL: In creating the five-year, $50 million deal that brought former NBC talk titan O’Brien into the cable world, Dewey says TBS conceded ownership of the show while securing promotional and digital commitments from O’Brien. “We were very clear to him about what it takes to promote a show like this and to live side by side with the digital universe,” she says. “We wanted him to be a partner with us in the pragmatic and business realities.”
SPARE TIME: Baking, beading, collecting cake plates.
TOP CAUSE: Fresh stART, which raises funds for arts-related therapy programs for at-risk kids.

Gavin Polone
Manager for Conan O’Brien and producer at Pariah
Polone was at the center of two of the biggest TV deals of the year, both revolving around client Conan O’Brien. One was his exit from NBC and “The Tonight Show,” the second was to set him up with a new show at cabler TBS. Also, Polone’s production company, Pariah, began work on the feature “Premium Rush” for Columbia.
KEY DEAL: Polone says O’Brien was open to any reasonable offers after departing NBC, and it was the unprecedented response from TBS that put the cabler out front. Sealing it was easy, given the speed with which TBS made decisions and responded to offers, resulting in a deal where both O’Brien and TBS have a vested interest in the show and its success. “Everybody was going to earn less, but the exchange for that was obviously that his ownership of the show would be meaningful,” Polone says. “Conan was very willing to make an investment in himself.”
SPARE TIME: Internet poker.
TOP CAUSE: Animal rights.

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