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Sci Fi lifts vital Vitale to sr. veep

Exec credited for growing pic library

NEW YORK — The Sci Fi Channel has promoted Tom Vitale to the new post of senior VP of programming and original movies, reinforcing his role as network point man for as many as two dozen fresh made-for-cable pics every year.

Dave Howe, general manager of Sci Fi and Vitale’s boss, said the net keeps harvesting more viewers each year at least in part because its Saturday Action Movie, a weekly primetime lineup of new made-fors, offers programming people can’t get anywhere else.

“Vitale’s dealmaking skills have paid dividends in allowing the network to amass a library of movies that we can draw on for years to come,” Howe said.

Sci Fi pays a modest license fee of about $750,000 for the U.S. rights to each movie, whose production cost usually hovers at $2 million-$2.5 million.

Although deal terms appear unfavorable to the suppliers, they’re eager to do them because the international marketplace has a fondness for monster movies, which travel well across foreign borders.

More people continue to discover the Saturday Action Movie, whose Nielsen numbers are up about 20% vs. the same period a year ago.

Vitale also buys theatrical movies and reruns of broadcast, cable and syndicated series for Sci Fi, but Howe said that these purchases play second fiddle to the network’s originals, including hit series “Stargate SG-1” and “Stargate Atlantis” and such big miniseries as “Taken” and “Children of Dune.”

Vitale joined Sci Fi in 1993 as director of acquisitions. Before that, he was an executive in syndication and marketing for Viacom Entertainment, working on such series as “The Cosby Show,” “Double Dare” and “The Montel Williams Show.”

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