Buena Vista Television prexy Mort Marcus has ankled his post for Disney portal Go.com, where the longtime syndication exec has been named executive vice president of sales and development.
With Marcus departing, sources expect ABC to announce as soon as next week that BVT’s programming arm will be merged with ABC Daytime and report to that division’s president, Angela Shapiro.
Meanwhile, also at Go.com, Kevin Mayer has been upped to executive veep and general manager.
Both Marcus and Mayer, most recently executive veep of television network, broadband product and international for Buena Vista Internet Group, will start in their new posts Nov. 17, when Disney’s acquisition of Infoseek Corp. is expected to close.
Marcus had been head of BVT since 1994, where he oversaw BVT’s programming, sales and marketing as well as pay-per-view and pay TV operations.
The move reunites Marcus with Buena Vista Internet Group chairman Steve Bornstein, to whom the executive will report. Marcus had worked under him when Bornstein was president of ABC Inc. Bornstein moved to the Internet division in September.
“If the company thought highly enough to put Steve, who might be one of the smartest executives here, in charge of Internet, then I knew how much attention they would be giving the Internet company,” Marcus said.
“If he wasn’t there, I’m not sure I would do it,” he said. “This is a chance to report to Steve, who reports directly to (Disney topper Michael) Eisner.”
Marcus will handle advertising, sponsorship sales and new business development at Go.com, which includes the Go.com portal and sites such as ABC.com, ABCNews.com, Disney.com and ESPN.com.
Given the consolidating nature of syndication, Marcus said it was time to make a move.
“For me it’s obvious,” he said. “One business is mature, not that it’s not a great business. The other business (Internet) is pure growth.”
BVT has yet to name a new president, although candidates are rumored to include Janice Marinelli, executive VP of sales at the distributor.
With ABC Daytime expected to consume BVT’s programming arm, BVT’s new president would presumably work closely with Shapiro on the network side. The consolidation would follow Disney’s decision earlier this year to merge ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television.
As has been rumored for at least a month, BVT sales and marketing would not be included in the consolidation.
Current BVT series include the talk strip “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee,” the first-run hour “Disney’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show,” Comedy Central’s “Win Ben Stein’s Money” and the hot game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which is still a candidate to become a first-run syndie strip.
Under Marcus, BVT and Encore Media Group signed the most expensive pay TV movie output deal in history last August, a pact that could total $3.4 billion.
Before assuming the presidency at BVT, Marcus was president at Debmar Studios, in which Disney held an interest. Prior to that, Marcus served as senior vice president of sales at BVT. He’s also held TV posts at Qintex Entertainment, Colex and the Samuel Goldwyn Co.
Meanwhile, Mayer replaces Patrick Naughton, head of Go.com and Infoseek’s product chief, who was arrested Sept. 16 by the FBI on charges of soliciting sex from a minor over the ‘Net.
Mayer will be responsible for the day-to-day management of Go.com and for the development of strategies to grow the business globally.
He will also oversee entertainment sites Mr. Showbiz and Wall of Sound.
Mayer will report to Buena Vista Internet Group prexy Steve Wadsworth, who made the announcement with Bornstein on Wednesday.
“As we prepare to close our deal with Infoseek and combine our two organizations, I can’t think of a better choice to run the Go.com portal business,” Bornstein said. “Kevin has been instrumental in the development of all of Disney’s Internet businesses from their beginnings, and his experience will be invaluable as we continue to develop Go.com.”
Most recently, Mayer helped oversee ABC Internet Group, ESPN Internet Group and BVIG’s various international businesses. He also oversaw BVIG’s strategic deployment of broadband and enhanced television services.
Prior to joining BVIG, Mayer was senior veep, strategic planning, for the Walt Disney Co., where his responsibilities included strategic planning and business development for the technology and new-media arenas, helping create Disney Online, ABC Internet Group and ESPN Internet Group.
He also was a management consultant with the LEK Partnership in Los Angeles.
Buena Vista Internet Group operates sites Disney.com, Family.com, ABC.com, ABCNEWS.com and ESPN.com. Infoseek and Disney created Go.com in July.