Sam Haskell has been upped to worldwide head of television for the William Morris Agency.
Haskell, a 21-year WMA vet, will now oversee all of the agency’s TV operations. He had been exec VP and West Coast head of TV since 1994, when he also joined WMA’s board of directors.
WMA, long the dominant tenpercentery player in TV, has not had a worldwide TV chief since Bob Crestani left the agency in October 1995. WMA recently recruited former ICM co-chairman Jim Wiatt as prexy and co-CEO, but Haskell’s promotion was in the works prior to Wiatt’s arrival last month.
“At a time of significant creative and regulatory change and consolidation in the television industry, Sam’s the bedrock on which we’ve built our business and upon whom we’ll rely for years to come,” said WMA board chairman Norman Brokaw in announcing the promotion.
Jerry Katzman, WMA’s vice chairman, used a baseball analogy to sing Haskell’s praises.
“Haskell is to television what (Cal) Ripken, (Mark) McGwire and (Sammy) Sosa are to baseball,” Katzman said. “We’ve got lots of MVPs at William Morris, but Sam belongs in Cooperstown.”
This season, Haskell is overseeing two dozen WMA packaging deals for primetime series, including NBC’s “Suddenly Susan,” the WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and CBS’ “Cosby,” “King of Queens” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the last of which is a split package with CAA.
His client list includes Bill Cosby, Kathie Lee Gifford, Dolly Parton, Martin Short, Lily Tomlin, Debbie Allen, Malcolm Jamal Warner and Ann-Margret.
“This business is all about relationships,” Haskell said. “I love being in a position to build relationships with clients and to build bench strength for this agency.”
Haskell worked his way up the WMA ranks from the mailroom through the various TV departments to become the agency’s youngest senior veep ever in 1990. The Mississippi native is well-liked among network and studio brass.
“He’s honorable, he’s a man of his word, he’s someone you can count on in a crunch,” said Leslie Moonves, prexy and chief operating officer of CBS Television.
“He’s very hands on,” added Garth Ancier, NBC entertainment prexy. “He’s someone you can always turn to when you have a problem.”