Joseph D. Zaleski, a 32-year syndication sales veteran who shattered industry records with his sales campaign on behalf of “The Cosby Show,” died Friday of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 66.
For the past four years, Zaleski had served as prexy of Carsey-Werner Domestic Distribution.
“We have lost a dear friend and the syndication industry has lost one of the best executives ever to come out of the business,” said Stuart Glickman, vice chairman and CEO of Carsey-Werner.
In the late 1980s, while serving as syndication prexy for Viacom Enterprises, Zaleski pioneered the inclusion of barter advertising time as part of the off-network sales plan for the hit NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show.”
The revenue from barter ad sales helped propel “Cosby’s” syndie gross to more than $800 million, setting an industry record that has been surpassed only by “Seinfeld.”
Born May 6, 1933, in Buffalo, N.Y., Zaleski began his TV career in 1967 as veep of sales for National Telefilm Associates. He worked for several indie distribs in the 1970s before joining Viacom Enterprises in 1980 as VP of feature film sales, advancing to senior veep and general sales manager the following year.
In the early 1990s, before joining Carsey-Werner, Zaleski ran his own sales and marketing consulting firm.
He is survived by his wife, Donna, son Damon and daughter Kellie. Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Zaleski’s name to St. Martin of Tours Church, 11967 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90049, or Ithaca College, 953 Danby Road, Ithaca, N.Y., 14850.