WB TV topper defeats consultant Nancy Bradley Wiard

Bruce Rosenblum has been elected chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, defeating vice chairman Nancy Bradley Wiard in a vote by the board of governors Wednesday night.

As president of the Warner Bros. Television Group, Rosenblum becomes the highest-ranking exec to head the organization that presides over the nighttime Emmy Awards since then-Walt Disney Studios chief Richard Frank completed his stint in the mid-1990s.

Although the race looked like a mismatch — Wiard is a freelance producer and consultant who represents the academy’s daytime branch, having left “The Young and the Restless” eight years ago — her insider status as the No. 2 elected official to outgoing chairman John Shaffner kept the outcome in doubt.

Perhaps the most pressing challenge Rosenblum will face at the Acad will be the networks’ desire to streamline the Primetime Emmy ceremony and enhance its entertainment quotient by reducing the number of on-air awards. Past attempts have yielded strong pushback from key constituencies — particularly the guilds representing writers and directors, some of whose categories would be likely casualties.

In an interview, Rosenblum downplayed the significance of possible revisions to the Emmys, noting that changes to the broadcast “have been contemplated for years” and will eventually be determined via a consensus of the board. In terms of the leadership, “I don’t think the primary role is limited to the primetime Emmys,” he told Variety.

Where he hopes to be proactive, Rosenblum added, is by “bringing a renewed energy to the organization” and “finding ways to make the academy more relevant to members beyond September.”

In a letter to board members he reiterated during the candidates’ brief addresses on Wednesday, Rosenblum cited a need to heighten the academy’s relevance with members and visibility, as well as increase revenue. Other priorities include focusing on diversity and the issue of so-called runaway production, which has a significant impact on the local community, he said.

Given the stark choice the election presented, the TV academy appears to have dodged a bullet, at least in terms of its perception among the industry’s upper echelons. One exec who asked to remain anonymous said it would have been an embarrassment for the board to choose Wiard — even with her years of service to the organization — over a power player at the industry’s most prolific studio.

Wiard stated prior to the election that she is familiar with various industry leaders from her years on the board and planned to solicit their participation in the group. But that’s hardly the same as someone who interacts with them on a daily basis.

While the position is voluntary, overseeing the academy will up the public profile of Rosenblum, who is part of a three-member office of the president at Warner Bros. along with film chief Jeff Robinov and home-entertainment prez Kevin Tsujihara.

In other races, producer Kevin Hamburger was elected vice chairman, Frank Scherma (commercials peer group) won as second vice chair, Marcelino Ford (interactive) was reelected as secretary, and production execs rep Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg topped four rivals to become treasurer. Incumbent L.A.-area representative Joetta Di Bella ran unopposed. The new officers assume their posts in January.

Despite 16,000 members, only the board – consisting of two reps from each of 28 peer branches – and 13-member executive committee participate in electing TV academy officers.

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