Granath makes way for De Villiers at ABC

Herbert Granath, the highly regarded international veteran of ABC, will formally turn over the reins of the combined Disney/ABC Intl. Television operation to his designated successor, Etienne De Villiers, in January, according to an internal memo circulated to staff Monday.

The move was foreshadowed 18 months ago when the two international operations of ABC and Disney were consolidated into one organization. At that time, Granath was named chairman of Disney/ABC Intl. Television and De Villiers received the prexy title.

It was understood then that De Villiers, a South African based in London, would succeed Granath at an unspecified time in the future.

Granath, who is based at ABC in New York, will retain his corporate title of senior VP at the parent company through 1999 and will also continue as chairman of ESPN and of A&E, the two cable channels in which ABC is a major shareholder. Granath will also remain actively involved in ABC’s dealings with the Academy Awards, an event the broadcaster airs and sells around the world.

Granath told Daily Variety that much of the transition to De Villiers has already been accomplished and that the biggest change come January would be a letup for him on all the travel required for the job.

Since the merger with Disney, Granath has traveled on behalf of the company to nurture top-level relationships in various parts of the world, including China, and to set the groundwork for the launch of localized Disney Channels around the globe. He also accompanied Michael Ovitz on several forays that the former Disney president made abroad on behalf of the company.

De Villiers, who could not be reached for comment, will now report to Robert Iger, president of CapCities/ABC Inc. rather than to Granath. A 10-year veteran of Disney, De Villiers will also retain his title of managing director of the Walt Disney Co. Ltd. in the U.K.

The reporting change suggests that Iger will soon take a much more active role in overseeing the global expansion of Disney/ABC.

Up until now Granath — who has enjoyed a 40-year career at the Alphabet web — had always been the point person at the network for international operations. He spearheaded the company’s foray into the fledgling cable programming arena in the late 1970s and later led the company into international investing at a time when global expansion was considered by most American media players as, at best, an afterthought.

More TV

  • Crypt TV - The Birch -

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

  • Robin Givens OWN Network

    Robin Givens on OWN's 'Ambitions,' TV Roles for Black Women and #MeToo

    Robin Givens’ breakout role came in the 1986-91 sitcom “Head of the Class.” Since then, she’s established herself as one of the most prolific actresses on television. That trajectory has continued into this year, with Givens playing a slew of what she calls “badass women” in shows such as “Riverdale” and “The Fix,” including her [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Seeks to Stop Appointment of Special Prosecutor

    Jussie Smollett’s lawyers filed a motion on Friday to overturn the appointment of a special prosecutor in his hate crime hoax case, arguing the appointment would expose the “Empire” actor to double jeopardy. Smollett is seeking to reverse an order issued last month by Judge Michael Toomin, who faulted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx [...]

  • Jimmy Pitaro ESPN

    Dan Le Batard Tests ESPN's - and Jimmy Pitaro's - No-Politics Policy

    Perhaps someone didn’t get the memo. Ever since Jimmy Pitaro took the helm of ESPN in early 2018, employees at the Walt Disney-owned sports-media juggernaut were made aware of at least one thing: The new boss didn’t want sportscasters yakking it up about politics any longer. But Dan Le Batard, the popular radio and TV [...]

  • Rick Rubin Spotify Secret Genius Awards,

    Seven Things We Learned About 'Shangri-La' and Rick Rubin from Showtime's Series

    Showtime’s documentary series “Shangri-La” insists it is not a biographical documentary on uber-producer Rick Rubin, and it’s not meant as a four-hour advertisement for Rubin’s legendary Malibu studio, after which the four-part series is named … but it feels like a little bit of both those things. “Shangri-La” is primarily filmed at the studio where [...]

  • Elaine Paul - Amazon Studios

    Elaine Paul Exits as Hulu CFO to Join Amazon Studios

    Elaine Paul has departed Hulu after nearly six years as chief financial officer to join Amazon Studios as CFO/VP of finance. She started at the ecommerce company’s studio division on July 15, reporting to Dan Jedda, VP of digital, advertising and corporate development finance for Amazon, a company rep said. Paul’s move to Amazon, first [...]

  • Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour

    Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour Studios, Home of ‘Krypton’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Belfast Harbour Studios in Northern Ireland, where the Syfy series “Krypton” is shot, is set for a major expansion. The Warner Horizon-produced series has occupied the full site, which currently has two stages, since it opened in 2017. The landowners had signaled that they wanted to expand, and Variety has learned that plans for the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content