Sustaining the process: Peter Chernin

When Garth Ancier resigned as the Fox Network’s program chief after three years in February 1989, he said he was burned out.

“There was so much tumult in getting it launche d. Three years of it was a lot,” he recalls.

“They looked around for about six months and came up with Peter Chernin, who’s terrific. They brought him in and we did a little transition and that was that.”

Chernin had been president and chief operating officer of Lorimar Film Ent., and before that executive VP for programming and marketing at Showtime/The Movie Channel.

Under Chernin’s stewardship, Fox sustained its presence as the Fourth Network by adding Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Wednesdays to its primetime schedule, and by launching the Fox Children’s Network and setting up the Fox Net Cable Program Service.

Sandy Grushow,n ow president of Fox Entertainment Group, who has been with Fox since 1988, recalls that one of the turning points for the company occurred during Chernin’s tenure.

In December 1989, Fox programmed a “Simpsons” Christmas special and a one-hour “Married … With Children” Christmas special featuring the late comedian Sam Kinison.

“That was the highest performance we had ever achieved at that point,” Grushow recalls. “It went a long way in terms of communicating to the American public what we were about by programming aggressively outside a major sweeps period; indeed during the holidays when most of the other networks tend to throw low-rated specials on the air.”

Grushow succeeded Chernin in November 1992 when Chernin was named chairman of Twentieth Century Fox.

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