Animal taps Cascio exec VP

Cable vet's resume includes NBC news, A&E

NEW YORK — Discovery’s Animal Planet has tapped the veteran cable-network executive Michael Cascio to take over as executive VP and general manager.

Cascio, 50, has resigned as VP of cable-programming development for NBC News and will join Animal Planet next month. “This is a big deal for me,” Cascio says, “because Animal Planet schedules such a wide variety of programming. I’ll won’t have any problem keeping my creative juices flowing.”

Although most of Animal Planet’s lineup deals with wildlife and nature documentaries, the network is not totally wedded to reality, buying movies and TV series to fill out its schedule. Animal Planet says it’s the fastest-growing channel in the history of cable, having just reached 70-million subscribers after only 55 months on the air.

The Animal Planet job became vacant last month when Clark Bunting got a promotion to executive VP and GM of Discovery Channel.

Before joining NBC News in December 1999, Cascio spent nine years at A&E, where he developed the network’s signature program “Biography,” as well as original dramas, performance specials and documentaries, including “Investigative Reports.”

Cascio will relocate from New York to Bethesda, Md., the headquarters of Animal Planet.