Viacom will unite global TV efforts

Nunez Jr. to head merged division

Leslie Moonves has engineered his first major move as co-president/co-chief operating officer of Viacom, merging the international operations of CBS/King World and Paramount into one global entity: CBS Paramount Intl. TV.

Armando Nunez Jr., president of CBS Broadcast Intl., will become president of the merged division, edging out Gary Marenzi, who has resigned after seven years as president of Paramount Intl. TV. Nunez takes over what industry observers say is the largest volume of TV shows and movies in the world.

Rumors about the merger of the international divisions of Viacom have filled the gossip pipeline for years, but Marenzi’s fiefdom was zealously guarded by Jonathan Dolgen as long as Dolgen was as co-head and chairman of the Paramount Entertainment Group.

Dolgen resigned June 2, the day after Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom, replaced Mel Karmazin with Moonves and Tom Freston as Viacom co-presidents.

With Moonves now in charge of all of Paramount’s TV resources, Marenzi’s fate was sealed, even though Marenzi successfully presided over the global absorption of TV shows from Aaron Spelling Prods. and Rysher Entertainment into the Par library.

Appointing Nunez to the top international post was “a no-brainer,” said Moonves. “He’s smart and knows the business. As a salesman, he’s a tough negotiator, but the international community loves doing business with him.”

Moonves said the consolidation of the divisions under Nunez “will allow us to cut costs and generate more revenue.”

“We’re a sales-focused organization with a diverse portfolio of programming,” said Nunez, who’ll remain based in Los Angeles. “My goal,” he said, “is to put together the best pipeline possible.”

“Diverse portfolio” is putting it mildly.

CBS Paramount Intl. will be selling all of Par’s theatricals, including current releases “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Collateral”; syndicated shows such as “Frasier,” “JAG” and “Star Trek” and its sequels; CBS-owned shows like “Survivor,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “60 Minutes”; King World’s “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Dr. Phil”; UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model”; Spelling TV’s “Charmed”; and a library of more than 60,000 hours of programming.

All windows open

CBS Par Intl.’s nine worldwide offices will sell these movies and TV shows in all windows: free TV, basic cable, pay TV and satellite TV. Jack Waterman, president of worldwide pay TV, who used to be on an equal plane with Nunez and report to Dolgen, will now report to Nunez.

Nunez is a 20-year veteran of the international-syndication wars. Before coming to CBS, he was president of international distribution for Universal. Earlier in his career, he was president of New World Intl. TV and executive VP of international sales for Viacom Entertainment.

CBS does not own the foreign rights to its monster primetime hits “CSI,” “CSI Miami” and “Without a Trace.” Alliance Atlantis distributes the two “CSI” shows internationally, and Warner Bros. Intl. does the honors for “Without a Trace.”