Two dozen out in WB merger

Warner Bros. has completed the process of combining network production units Lorimar and Warner Bros. TV, resulting in the departure of about two dozen of the latter’s estimated 100 employees.

A spokeswoman said roughly three-quarters of Warner Bros. TV staffers have been placed elsewhere within the company — either at the combined TV operation or the consumer products, theatrical or retail divisions.

As part of the consolidation, a handful of key Warner Bros. execs have taken posts within the new Warner Bros. TV hierarchy, mostprominently Gregg Maday, who becomes senior VP of movies and miniseries, filling a position that has been vacant since VP Lindy DeKoven left Lorimar in March to take a similar post at NBC.

Maday, who had been at Warner Bros. since 1988, also continues as senior VP of programming for the Prime Time Entertainment Network — the studio’s ad-hoc syndicated action network, which will expand from one to two nights a week during the coming season.

In addition, WB TV current programming exec David Sacks, a 15-year studio veteran, shifts to the combined unit, reporting to head of current programming Steve Pearlman. Other former WB TV execs making the jump are VP of production Henry Johnson and casting exec John Levey.

Warner Bros. confirmed the exit of veepees of comedy and drama development Deborah Curtan and Sue Reiner, respectively. It was announced at the time of the merger that WB TV’s two top execs, prez Harvey Shephard and senior VP of creative affairs Fran McConnell, would stay with Warner Bros. under an independent production pact (Daily Variety, July 14).

Lorimar was left intact by the merger, which placed authority for the combined operation under former Lorimar prexy Leslie Moonves while keeping the Warner Bros. TV name.

Officials acknowledged then that they were evaluating redundancies between the units and that staff reductions would likely follow from the ranks of WB TV, with an Aug. 27 deadline for resolving personnel issues.

The studio attempted to find positions for all WB staffers within the company , the spokeswoman said, adding that all departing staffers would receive buyout packages and out-placement services.

The consolidated Warner Bros. TV division is by far primetime’s most prolific supplier, accounting for 15 fall shows totaling 9 hours. That tally, however, doesn’t include summer, midseason or PTEN entries.

All division programs introduced this season, whether developed by Warner Bros. or Lorimar, carry the WB TV tag, while returning Lorimar series still fly under that banner.

As head of longform programming, Maday oversaw Warner Bros. TV’s most prolific area last year, responsible for the miniseries “Alex Haley’s Queen” and “Sinatra” plus upcoming sequels to “The Thorn Birds” and “North & South,” both in association with the Wolper Organization for ABC.

Before joining Warner Bros., Maday worked at CBS in various capacities from 1979 through ’88. Sacks began at the studio in 1978 after a brief programming stint at NBC.

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