ABC’s Pedowitz goes solo

Touchstone prexy quits Alphabet post

After holding down two jobs for the past three years, Touchstone Television prexy Mark Pedowitz is going solo, giving up his other gig overseeing business affairs for ABC.

Jana Winograde, the exec VP who’s had day-to-day control of business affairs at ABC Entertainment, will take full command of the department. She’ll report to ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson.

Winograde also is adding oversight of business affairs for ABC Daytime and SoapNet, reporting to Brian Frons, prexy of the sudser unit.

Move by Disney-ABC TV Group prexy Anne Sweeney brings to an end an exec structure that always seemed awkward. Under the old system, Pedowitz sold shows to ABC as prexy of Touchstone — but also had a hand in controlling the pursestrings at the Alphabet.

Some saw that as a potential conflict, and Alphabet insiders said the set-up contributed to tension between McPherson and Pedowitz.

Now, with Pedowitz no longer an ABC exec, he and McPherson can move forward with the same sort of semi-dysfunctional relationship that exists between the heads of other networks and their sister studios, such as NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly and NBC U Television Studio prexy Angela Bromstad.

Pedowitz told Daily Variety that while holding down both jobs was “a hell of a lot of fun,” Touchstone’s growth in recent years made balancing two posts increasingly difficult.

“The studio has grown from about $400 million a year in production to $1 billion,” he said, noting Touchstone now produces the three top-rated shows on TV in adults 18-49 and has greatly expanded its cable presence as well.

“It’s a much more complicated world than existed three years ago,” he said.

Giving up his business affairs role also marks a personal turning point for Pedowitz, who has spent much of the past 20 years in biz and legal affairs posts.

“I started in production and I’ve now spent almost three years (as head of Touchstone),” Pedowitz said. “I’m completely comfortable with it. In some ways I’ve left the business affairs world and I’m in a totally different place.”

As for Winograde, promotion comes 13 years after she joined the Alphabet in the net’s litigation department. She was tapped director of business affairs and contracts in 1996 and earned her veepee stripes two years later.

Winograde has been exec VP of ABC Entertainment since February 2005.

“It was her time. She was ready,” Pedowitz said. “She’s pragmatic, she’s smart and she has great business sense. She also has great common sense.”

For the record, Pedowitz’s shedding of his Alphabet title also marks the end of the ABC Entertainment Television Group. Unit was born in 1999, when Disney merged the creative teams at ABC and Touchstone and put Lloyd Braun in charge of both.

Within a few years, ABC and Touchstone broke up again. The few execs who held titles under the banner have either left the company or moved on to other gigs.

Touchstone has 19 series in production, from “Desperate Housewives” to the new FX skein “Dirt.”