You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Erspamer firing latest trouble at OWN

Discovery vet Mullin hired on interim basis

The dismissal of longtime Oprah Winfrey confidant and OWN exec VP Lisa Erspamer means the cabler still hasn’t found its mojo — and corporate owner Discovery might be losing patience.

Erspamer, who had been by Winfrey’s side for 18 years but had no network experience, was fired because OWN has fallen hugely short of expectations when it was launched a year ago.

While many thought fans of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” would automatically follow her brand to OWN, that simply hasn’t been the case. In May 2011, the exec shuffle began when CEO Christina Norman was let go and replaced by Peter Liguori.

Erspamer’s specialty was with her relationships with celebrities, nurtured while she was on “Oprah.” She arrived a full year before the network debut and was instrumental in getting reality skeins “The Judds” and “Why Not? With Shania Twain” on the air. Yet, as with most series on OWN, neither one failed to ignite.

Parent company Discovery has ponied up $300 million so far, with little return on its investment, and the Maryland-based conglom may be making personnel decisions with more authority than ever before.

Replacing Erspamer on an interim basis is Discovery vet Rita Mullin, who is senior VP of content strategy for Discovery Fit & Health and will continue in that role. She also played a large part in a handful of TLC hits, including “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” and there’s hope that she can steady the ship at OWN before the net finds a permanent replacement.

Currently on staff as a consultant is former network chief Susanne Daniels, who previously ran the WB and Lifetime. It’s unclear whether Daniels would be interested in taking on greater responsibilities at OWN.

Winfrey, who delegated much of the responsibility when it came to launching OWN, has become more hands-on in recent months and is working with presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata to find a winning mix of programs. One of the few bright spots has been “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” which is off to a healthy start with an average 924,000 viewers tuning in each week.

And there’s also docuseries “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” about the goings-on at a St. Louis restaurant.

Missing the mark, however, is the much higher-profile “The Rosie Show,” with Rosie O’Donnell. The talkshow is averaging only 200,000 per episode. Earlier this week, “Rachael Ray” vet Shane Farley was hired to replace Page Hurwitz as exec producer.

More TV

  • BBC Studios' ‘Great Bake Off’ to

    APOS: BBC’s ‘Great Bake Off’ to be Reheated in Thailand

    BBC Studios Distribution has sold the Love Productions format “The Great Bake Off” for production in Thailand. It is the cooking competition show’s first localized version in Asia. “Bake Off Thailand” will be produced by APJ&CO, a local production house known for producing the recent seasons of “The Voice Thailand.” Over eight weeks, 12 of the country’s [...]

  • Lutz Schüler Replacing Tom Mockridge at

    Lutz Schüler Replacing Tom Mockridge at Liberty Global’s Virgin Media

    Lutz Schüler is taking the reins at U.K. cabler Virgin Media, replacing media industry veteran Tom Mockridge who is stepping down. New Zealander Mockridge is exiting to move base himself in Italy with his family. He has had a long career in pay TV and newspapers. In TV he worked at several Rupert Murdoch baked [...]

  • Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La

    Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La Unidad’

    MELILLA, Spain — Spain’s pay TV leader Movistar+ has announced its newest original series, the anti-terrorist police drama-thriller series “La Unidad,” which started filming last week in the small autonomous Spanish community of Melilla, located on the Moroccan coast. One of the biggest international plays to date for Movistar +, the pay TV/SVOD unit of [...]

  • Visitors arrive at the Hudson Yards

    AT&T Sells WarnerMedia Hudson Yards Space to Pay Down Debt

    AT&T has cut a deal to sell and lease back its WarnerMedia office space in New York’s glitzy Hudson Yards development for $2.2 billion to help pare down its enormous debt load. AT&T said Tuesday it has set a deal to sell its office space at 30 Hudson Yards to an affiliate of Related Companies, [...]

  • Japanese actor Ken Watanabe poses on

    Ken Watanabe to Star in Japan Edition of 'The Fugitive'

    Warner Bros. International Television Production and Japan’s TV Asahi network are teaming to remake “The Fugitive” as a special program that celebrates TV Asahi’s 60th anniversary. Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Godzilla,” “Inception”) will star in the title role made famous by David Janssen in the 1963-1967 U.S. TV series and then by Harrison Ford [...]

  • black lgbtq actors hollywood representation

    TV Roundup: 'Pose' Season 2 Premiere Date Pushed Back on FX

    In today’s roundup, “Pose” gets a new Season 2 premiere date and Sara Gilbert is set to play a recurring role on Season 3 of Netflix’s “Atypical.” FIRST LOOK The TV Academy has unveiled the key art for the 71st Emmy Awards. The new design, which will be used across platforms including the Emmy’s website, [...]

  • James Holzhauer Jeopardy

    Why James Holzhauer Is Bad for 'Jeopardy!' (Column)

    James Holzhauer, who is closing in on a million dollars of game-show winnings, is on track to become the most successful “Jeopardy!” contestant of all time. And he’s become such a dominant force that a historic run has come to seem, as television, boring. Over the course of thirteen episodes and counting, Holzhauer’s methods and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content