NEW YORK — Fox Kids Worldwide has begun the process of taking over IFE (Intl. Family Entertainment), and will lay off 45 employees in IFE’s Virginia Beach, Va., headquarters as of Oct. 10.
That’s the word from a Fox Kids spokesman, who says an additional 43 employees will stay on in Virginia Beach for up to six months as part of a transition team that will keep the Family Channel running until the operation moves to Los Angeles. Most of these 43 will also be let go by the end of the six-month period, although a few might follow the company to L.A., the spokesman says.
Another division of IFE, MTM Enterprises, which produces and distributes TV series and owns an extensive library of series such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Hill Street Blues” and “St. Elsewhere,” will be absorbed into Murdoch’s Twentieth TV over the next three months, says Tony Thomopoulos, CEO of MTM Enterprises.
Insiders say most of MTM’s staff of 40 or so people, including Thomopoulos and Mike Ogiens, president of MTM Television, also will lose their jobs, although Twentieth has given no official word on the fate of these employees.
Distribution sources say Thomopoulos tried to keep his staff intact by getting financing to buy MTM Enterprises from Fox Kids. But Murdoch ended up vetoing Thomopoulos’ proposal, claiming that Twentieth TV could make valuable use of MTM’s inventory of TV shows and movies.
As previously reported, four IFE executives — Larry Dantzler, chief financial officer; Lou Isakoff, general counsel; Rick Servaitis, president of ad sales; and Gus Lucas, president of the Family Channel — signed new employment contracts while the merger was in the works. These contracts will reward the four with multimillion-dollar bonuses if Fox Kids decides to fire them.