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Bud Grant dies at 79

Was CBS Entertainment president in the '80s

Former CBS Entertainment president B. Donald (Bud) Grant died July 1 in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 79.

Grant joined NBC’s executive training program in 1956 and began his career in television in 1958 at the “Today” show. At NBC he served in a variety of capacities over the next 14 years, including manager of nighttime programs, manager of daytime programs and, for five years, national director of daytime programs.

Grant arrived at CBS in 1972, assuming a post as VP daytime programs, and was named VP of programs at CBS Entertainment in 1977.

He was prexy of CBS Entertainment beginning in 1980 and was responsible for some of the network’s biggest of that era, including “Murder, She Wrote” and “Newhart.” CBS’ fortunes dwindled, however — it was the third-rated network by the fall of 1987 and had been unable to develop new hits — and Grant exited in October of that year to form his own production company, Bud Grant Prods., which had a deal with CBS.

He formed a venture with Tribune a few months after exiting CBS, Grant/Tribune Prods., but Tribune exited the production business and the venture in 1993. He inked deals with the Walt Disney Co. in 1992 and with Warner Bros. TV in 1993.

In 1997 Grant’s Third Coast Entertainment was planning an adaptation of a Priscilla Presley bio. At the time, Grant told Variety’s Army Archerd that when he was head of CBS, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion made a concert special with Presley — just before he died. ” ‘I met with Col. Parker,’ recalls Bud, “and told him I wanted to call the special ‘Elvis’ Last Concert,’ but Parker said, ‘It’s not going to be his last concert — Elvis is going to live forever.’ ”

Grant sued Priscilla Presley in 1998, claiming that she had interfered with production of the biopic, but the litigation ended in a victory for Presley and the film was never made.

Grant was born in Baltimore and graduated from Johns Hopkins U. with a B.S. in business administration. He served in the Coast Guard from 1953-55.

He was a governor of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and a member of the board of the Hollywood Radio & Television Society. Grant was heavily involved in charitable causes and received the Nancy Reagan Award of the Entertainment Industry Council in 1987.

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