×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Preston Beckman set for Fox segue

Longtime skedding topper to shift to advisory role

Longtime Fox Broadcasting Co. skedding topper Preston Beckman, the reigning dean of network program planning execs, will transition to a new role as senior strategist for Fox Networks Group.

Starting in June, the new role calls for Beckman to offer skedding, programming and research insights for various Fox Networks Group outlets, reporting to Peter Rice, FNG chairman of entertainment.

“Fox has been incredibly fortunate to have Preston guiding our schedule for the past decade and seven consecutive years of No. 1 finishes,” Rice said in announcing Beckman’s segue. “His strategic mind and love of television make him the Muhammad Ali of scheduling executives.”

The decision to shift to a lower gear came at Beckman’s behest. He had initially planned to retire this year, but Rice convinced him to remain in the fold in a different capacity. “He was very persuasive and gracious,” Beckman said.

Beckman has been with Fox the past 11 years, serving as exec veep of strategic program planning and research. Before Fox, he spent nearly 20 years at NBC and was a key member of the Peacock’s programming team in its 1990s heyday.

Highlights of his Fox tenure include the decision to sked the real-time drama “24” in an uninterrupted January-May run and helping to craft the skedding and twice-weekly skedding pattern for “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “The X Factor.” Beckman was quick to praise the programming execs he’s worked with over the years, including Rice and entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly and network alumni Peter Liguori and Gail Berman.

Beckman maintains that the role of broadcast networks and scheduling remains vital, despite all the industry focus on on-demand viewing options and changing consumer behaviors. “To me the exciting thing about this business is that you’re still going to need hits,” Beckman said. “It’s still about how you aggregate audiences and use your schedule to create new hits.”

Beckman is well-liked in the biz and known for the candid observations he shares on his Twitter feed, where he’s dubbed “The Masked Scheduler.”

More TV

  • RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R:

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Jan. 21, 2019: 'Rent: Live,' 'Celebrity Big Brother'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Rent: Live” airs on Fox and “Celebrity Big Brother” returns for a second [...]

  • Black Monday: How Showtime Dusted Off

    'Black Monday': How Showtime Dusted Off An Old '80s Logo For Its New Comedy

    Cocaine’s a hell of a drug, but you’re not seeing things: That, indeed is Showtime’s old 1980s-era logo pasted all over marketing materials and promos for “Black Monday,” a tongue-in-cheek tale of the excesses exhibited by Wall Street traders in the lead-up to the stock market crash of 1987. The logo, which hasn’t been in [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Review

    TV Review: 'Russian Doll'

    This is a particularly tricky review to write, but not because the merits of “Russian Doll” are at all ambiguous. On the contrary, the show is so striking and smart that I made a note to include it on my favorite TV shows of 2019 immediately after blowing through the season — which is saying [...]

  • Black Earth Rising Review

    TV Review: 'Black Earth Rising'

    Bringing to bear a talented cast on a story of real geopolitical significance, “Black Earth Rising,” Netflix’s drama about the long-tail aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, would seem to have had the potential to be one of 2019’s early television successes. Which makes its falling short all the more painful and pronounced. The show, previously [...]

  • DIRTY JOHN -- "This Young Woman

    'Dirty John' Finale Hits New Ratings Highs in Live+3

    The Season 1 finale of “Dirty John” on Bravo continued the scripted show’s ratings hot streak in Live+3. The finale, which aired on Jan. 13, grew to 3.3 million viewers in delayed viewing with 1.3 million of those falling in the key adults 18-49 demographic. That is up 10% in total viewers and 15% in [...]

  • Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join

    Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join ITV-Backed Production Company Possessed

    Former Sky One and Sky Living programming chief Adam MacDonald has joined Possessed, and will be the ITV-owned production banner’s first chair. The U.K.-based unscripted producer has also hired Lesley Davies, former head of international production at Warner Bros. She will head up production. The double hires follow a recommission  of gameshow “5 Gold Rings,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content