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KW ups DiSalvo domestic TV sales prexy

Whoopi replacement for 'Squares' first priority

NEW YORK — King World has elevated Joe DiSalvo to the post of president of domestic TV sales.

DiSalvo, who was senior VP and general sales manager of domestic syndication and cable sales, said in an interview that one of his immediate priorities will be to work with the new executive producers of “Hollywood Squares,” Henry Winkler and Michael Levitt, to find a high-wattage celebrity to replace Whoopi Goldberg in the center square.

Because “Squares” has fallen off in the ratings, DiSalvo said King World will be “looking at every piece of the production, starting from square one,” to restore the show to its former Nielsen luster.

Targeting small outlets

Another important task, he said, will be to sign up the 75 or so smaller TV stations that represent 20% of the country for renewal of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” through the 2005-06 season, which Winfrey has said will be her last as a syndicated talkshow host.

DiSalvo played a big role in driving the sales of “CSI” reruns to a record price of $1.6 million per episode on TNN. He said he can’t wait to get his hands on the “CSI” sequel, set in Miami and starring David Caruso, which will hit CBS’ primetime schedule in the fall.

‘Guardian’ reruns due soon

Reruns of “The Guardian,” CBS’ successful rookie hour, will also be arriving in the off-network marketplace soon, with a cable net the likely buyer of the five-a-week play and TV stations purchasing one or two runs on the weekend.

DiSalvo took on his senior VP post in 1999 following the merger of King World with the CBS-owned Eyemark Entertainment, where he had held a number of sales exec posts since 1997.

From 1994-97, DiSalvo was a top executive with New World/Genesis Distribution, rising to exec VP of domestic sales and shepherding the launch of “Access Hollywood.” Before that, he spent a decade as a sales exec with Viacom Enterprises, clearing such syndicated series as “The Montel Williams Show” and reruns of “The Cosby Show.”

In his new job, DiSalvo succeeds Stu Stringfellow, who has retired. DiSalvo will operate out of New York and report to Roger King, CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World Prods.