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AOL turning up TV

New Line marketing vet will head new unit

NEW YORK — AOL Time Warner is making a major commitment to its fledgling AOLTV interactive business by shifting Bob Friedman from his dual posts of co-chairman of worldwide theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema and president of New Line TV to the new position of president of AOLTV.

Coming on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that Jamie Kellner will become chairman and CEO of another AOL-TW division, Turner Broadcasting, the Friedman shift is another indication that Bob Pittman, co-chief operating officer of AOL-TW, has taken the reins and is starting to deploy his top executives to harvest more revenues from the corporation’s various businesses.

The corporation refers to Friedman’s new playground, AOLTV, which is less than a year old, as “the world’s first interactive television service for mass-market consumers.” Friedman reports to Barry Schuler, chairman-CEO of AOLTV.

In practical terms, with an AOLTV box hooked up to a TV set, viewers will be able to send emails or instant messages through an elaborate remote control while they’re watching their favorite show.

More multitasking

AOLTV, in effect, will make it easier for people to multitask by eliminating the laptop computer and making the TV programs and the emails part of the same set-top device.

An electronic program guide is built into AOLTV that will make a 500-channel universe simpler to navigate than existing on-air guides.

AOLTV will use the programming assets of Time Warner and outside partners to create all sorts of online features designed to accompany events such as the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl and episodes of popular series such as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Survivor II.” These features could include viewer polls or sports statistics, as well as interactive technology that would allow the audience to play along with contestants on “Wheel of Fortune” and “Family Feud.”

AOLTV declined to comment on the Friedman appointment. Sources say the corporation has no plans to replace Friedman in his New Line jobs. Rolf Mittweg, co-chairman of worldwide marketing of New Line Cinema with Friedman, likely will take over sole responsibility for the job.

At New Line TV, Friedman’s staff will remain in place to run the division under their current titles. One insider said no additional executives will be brought in from outside the company to fill any of the roles Friedman is relinquishing.

Friedman and Pittman first got to know each other when they worked together as executives for the MTV Network during its early days. Friedman rose through the ranks, ending up as senior VP of marketing, promotion and licensing for MTV and its sister network VH1.

Before MTV, Friedman worked at Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Co. Earlier, he helped to develop the Movie Channel.

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