A&E kisses a Frog exec

Cabler taps Nugent Jamieson drama chief

A&E has tapped former WB exec Tana Nugent Jamieson head of scripted drama programming.

As expected (Daily Variety, Feb. 23), Nugent Jamieson has been brought in as a senior VP to run A&E’s drama development from the West Coast, where she’ll mine companion programming for “The Sopranos” and “CSI: Miami” and beef up the cabler’s longform events lineup. Exec entered into negotiations for the job with the network late last month.

A&E exec VP-general manager Bob DeBitetto said Nugent Jamieson will be expected to immediately firm up a development team in L.A.; she’ll hire at least two more execs shortly.

Net’s East Coast drama veep Delia Fine will report to Nugent Jamieson. Nancy Dubuc will continue to manage A&E’s nonfiction, alternative and comedy biz as senior VP.

DeBitetto said Nugent Jamieson was an attractive hire because of her experience in both broadcast and cable. Equally appealing was her success in both longform and series arenas.

At TBS, she was in charge of all original movie production. More recently, she oversaw dramas including “Everwood,” “Jack & Bobby” and “The Bedford Diaries.” She also established the Frog’s TV movie division and was responsible for telepics “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday” and “Felicity.”

“The challenge at the WB was akin to that of cable networks: They targeted and delivered demos, which is different from the broadcast game and more like ours at A&E,” DeBitetto said. “That, in addition to having movie and series work under her belt, made her particularly suited to our needs.”

With “The Sopranos” set to join the cabler’s sked in January, DeBitetto said Nugent Jamieson will have to work quickly to establish A&E’s drama series strategy. Focus will be broad but bold.

“Whatever series efforts we do put forth, they must be compatible with the audiences that will come to us for ‘CSI: Miami’ and ‘Sopranos,’ ” DeBitetto said. “That doesn’t mean we’re looking for crime series or mob sagas, but it does mean we understand our assets and want to play to those strengths.”

Cabler is, however, “absolutely open” to “passion projects” from the A-list creative community, topper added.

It’s likely the network will pilot at least two hourlong skeins, with the aim of greenlighting one of them to series in time for the launch of “The Sopranos.” Cabler is also aiming to get a big event series, like “Into the West” or “The 4400,” on air in the next year or two.

Also riding on the original dramas is A&E’s brand, which has been in flux despite huge success with its original reality series. Execs expect the scripted skeins will help evolve the cabler beyond its former arts-centered core. Last scripted series originals on A&E were “Nero Wolfe” and “100 Centre Street,” both of which went off the air in 2002.

Before the WB, Nugent Jamieson was VP of original movies at TBS and an exec producer for NBC Studios. She also did stints at MCA/Universal, Alliance Atlantis Films, Dick Clark Prods. and Kushner-Locke Prods.