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Fisher to program Lifetime

U exec becomes cabler Veep

NEW YORK — Lifetime has finally filled its top programming job after a five-month search, signing Universal exec Barbara Fisher to the post of exec VP of entertainment.

Fisher has resigned as president of network programming for Universal Studios to take the post, which will make her responsible for scheduling, programming and production not only on Lifetime but its spinoff channels Lifetime Movie Network and Lifetime Real Women.

She succeeds Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff, who left to become head of programming for the UPN network.

One of her goals for Lifetime, Fisher said, is to work toward a second night of original drama series to complement the network’s highly rated Sunday night lineup of “The Division,” “Strong Medicine,” and starting on July 21, new drama series “For the People,” starring Lea Thompson as the chief deputy district attorney for Los Angeles.

Movies may grow

Fisher said she’s satisfied right now with the current schedule of 12 firstrun movies a year, although she added that the number could grow. Lifetime may have to beef up its TV-movie inventory because the broadcast networks are commissioning fewer of them. Lifetime relies on reruns of TV movies to fill its nightly primetime schedule, which consistently finishes higher in the Nielsens every week than any other advertiser-supported cable network.

Fisher said Carole Black, president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, contacted her back in January, and the two spent 3½ hours over lunch talking about the business.

Fisher said she still had time to go on her U contract but reached an amicable settlement with the company that allowed her to take the Lifetime post.

Before becoming president of network programming for Universal Studios, where she worked on series like “Just Shoot Me,” Fisher was president of Universal TV Entertainment from 1991-99, responsible for TV movies, miniseries and original cable series like HBO’s “Dream On.”