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Askin exits syndie post at Tribune

TV Acad CEO ankles

Tribune Entertainment prexy-CEO Dick Askin is ankling after more than a decade at the syndication outfit.

Askin, who is chairman-CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (where he’ll continue), will be replaced for now by Tribune Broadcasting prexy-CEO John Reardon, who will add overseeing Tribune Entertainment.

“I realized in the last few months that I had taken the job as far as it could go,” Askin said in a statement. “Our industry has changed dramatically in recent years, and there are now many interesting options that are available that I intend to pursue.”

The exec, who joined the company in 1996, will officially depart May 17.

“Dick and I have worked together for many years, and I am very appreciative of the many contributions he has made to the company,” said Tribune chairman-CEO Dennis FitzSimons. “Dick has expressed his desire to venture into new areas and assume increased responsibilities.”

Tribune Entertainment most recently sold the highly anticipated one-hour weekend series “American Idol Rewind” to stations. The show, produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, contains repackaged highlights of the smash Fox talent competish. It will premiere in September.

The distributor’s other fare includes FremantleMedia’s “Family Feud” (with new host John O’Hurley), which heads into the eighth season of its current run this fall; and the educational/informational DIC Kids’ Network. Company also handles the off-net run of Comedy Central’s “South Park” and markets DreamWorks’ theatrical movie packages.

Company was until recently home to several successful weekly actioners, including “Andromeda” and “Mutant X.”

But those hourlong shows are now out of firstrun production, in part because of changing financial models. And even though it owns stations in the top market, Tribune has struggled to launch a daytime strip since “Geraldo” in the early 1990s. As a result, the company has seen its production output slim down as the syndication marketplace has changed dramatically.

In one more blow to Tribune, the company’s highly anticipated weekly TV take on the hit MGM movie “Legally Blonde” fell apart last year when Sony bought MGM and decided it would rather focus on a sequel feature than a syndie skein.

Besides DreamWorks and FremantleMedia, Tribune also has strategic deals in place with companies including Hearst Entertainment, NBC Universal TV and Sony Pictures TV.

Askin also oversaw Hollywood’s Tribune Studios, the country’s first all-digital lot.

Before joining Tribune, Askin was president of Samuel Goldwyn TV. He also spent time as an exec at Fries Entertainment, NBC’s WNBC-TV New York and KNBC-TV Los Angeles.

Askin was elected to a second two-year term as chairman-CEO of the TV Acad in September. He’ll remain in the post until 2007. He also serves as a trustee for the American Film Institute and is on the board of the Hollywood Radio & TV Society.

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