That doesn’t seem to be the case. Diane Robina, who began unofficially at TV Guide late in 2009 to help oversee programming and marketing, is now the de facto head of the creative side of the net.
Chairman Allen Shapiro and Lionsgate topper Jon Feltheimer — Lionsgate owns 51% and One Equity Partners owns 49% — make their opinions known on the programming side as well, but are leaving most of the acquisition decisions to Robina.
“The job is getting more intense as we’re gaining more momentum,” she told Daily Variety.
TV Guide just announced that it’s creating original content to tack on to the end of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episodes, which the net recently acquired and will begin airing June 2. With Larry David on board and co-star Susie Essman as host, a panel of judges will examine the havoc David’s “Curb” persona has wrought, and judge whether he was right or wrong in how he dealt with various issues. Each segment will run 7-10 minutes.
Robina was on the Lionsgate payroll prior to coming to TV Guide and says Feltheimer and Shapiro, who continues as a managing partner of Mosaic Investment Partners and oversees the overall business strategy, P&L operations and long-term growth for TV Guide, are instrumental in getting high-profile talent to consider working with the network. Such was the case with David.
“Allen has a wickedly sharp business mind, is demanding and fast,” Robina said. “And coming from New York, I like things fast.”
TV Guide scored well with “I Dreamed A Dream: The Susan Boyle Story” in December, as the doc was the highest-rated special in the history of the network. Robina said the strategy going forward is to acquire programming and create originals, including scripted material. One goal is to find programming that will draw hardcore TV viewers who come to cabler one extremely popular show — “Curb,” for instance — and then stay and sample others.
“If I can afford scripted, we’ll do it,” she said. “People are looking at different models. People are spending $2 million-$3 million per episode, and that can make it hard to make your money back.”