×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Surprise, Sympathy After Scott Sassa’s Hasty Hearst Exit

Report of sexting scandal leaves company without top entertainment exec

Showbizzers were shaking their heads and snickering Thursday morning as word of Scott Sassa’s hasty exit from Hearst Entertainment spread among his friends and associates.

The New York Post reported late Wednesday that Sassa had left his post as president of the Hearst Entertainment and Syndication division in light of a scandal involving a woman forwarding to his colleagues salacious text messages he allegedly sent her.

A rep for Hearst confirmed Thursday that Sassa has left the company. References to Sassa have already been scrubbed off of the company’s corporate website.

The scandal puts the spotlight on the privately held company where execs tend to keep a low-profile even with the company’s sizable media holdings in TV and publishing. Sassa oversaw its cable and entertainment holdings that include co-ownership of ESPN and A+E Television Networks in joint ventures with Disney. It recently struck a deal with NBCUniversal to rebrand one of the Peacock’s cablers as Esquire Network, tapping into the cachet of Hearst’s successful men’s magazine.

Since joining Hearst in 2010, Sassa had been steadily building up its production and distribution operations, notably through a joint venture with Mark Burnett’s One Three Media shingle. Hearst is the international distrib partner on Burnett’s “The Bible” miniseries which has drawn big numbers to History, part of the A+E group.

There had been recent speculation that Sassa’s role was poised to grow at Hearst as the company is believed to be paving the way for a CEO transition in the near future. Steven Swartz was promoted late last year to the prexy-COO post, a move seen as putting him in line to take the reins at some point from Frank Bennack, who has served as CEO since 1979.

Bennack, according to the Post report, was among those who received copies of the texts from an unnamed woman who was allegedly pressuring Sassa  to pay her to avoid having her reveal sexually explicit comments she claimed he made to her.

On Thursday, friends and colleagues who have known Sassa through his stints at NBC, Fox and Turner Broadcasting were quick to respond to reports of the sexting scandal. There was plenty of snark, but many expressed sympathy and surprise that the texting incident, if true, would lead to his dismissal.

“Sad. Such a talented guy,” said NBCUniversal’s Vivian Schiller on Twitter. “I feel bad for Scott. Nice guy,” Beck Media’s Steve Spignese said via Twitter.

“If sexting a stripper on one’s own time was normally a fireable offense half of wall street would be pounding the pavement,” blogger Elizabeth Spiers noted on Twitter.

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein legal team

    Harvey Weinstein Loses Another Defense Lawyer

    Harvey Weinstein has lost another defense lawyer, just three months before he is set to go on trial for rape and sexual assault. Attorney Jose Baez told the judge overseeing the case that Weinstein had taken actions that made it difficult to represent him, according to a letter obtained by the New York Post. Baez [...]

  • https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/kindred_spirits_2019_v7.jpg

    Kindred Spirits Host Fundraiser for Child Refugees

    The Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees will host its third annual Kindred Spirits fundraising campaign this month on behalf of UNICEF and in coordination with World Refugee Day, which is Thursday. The grassroots, volunteer organization’s online fundraiser will take place from June 14-27, and 100% of every donation made will benefit UNICEF. “We call [...]

  • Vid Angel

    VidAngel Hit with $62.4 Million Judgment for Pirating Movies

    A jury on Monday ordered VidAngel to pay $62.4 million to Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. for streaming hundreds of movies on its service without permission. The verdict is potentially a death blow to the Utah-based company, which sought to allow family audiences to watch Hollywood fare while skipping past violence, sex, and other objectionable [...]

  • Nicholas Sparks

    Nicholas Sparks Apologizes, Explains Opposition to LGBT Club

    Romance writer Nicholas Sparks issued an apology on Monday for remarks he made in 2013 opposing the formation of an LGBT club at his Christian school. In an email published last week by the Daily Beast, Sparks faulted Saul Benjamin, who was then the headmaster of the Epiphany School of Global Studies, for pushing an [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 Production

    'Game of Thrones,' Netflix VFX Among Those to Be Featured in SIGGRAPH Production Talks

    VFX pros behind the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame,” Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4,” last year’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Netflix series, including “Stranger Things,” and more will give SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees a behind-the-scenes look at their work during the conference’s Production Sessions. There will even be a [...]

  • welcome home Apple Ad

    Cannes Lions Takes Place in Time of Change for Ad World

    The ad industry gathers June 17-21 for its annual celebration of commercials, marketing and creativity, the Cannes Lions in the French Riviera. It does so against a backdrop of ongoing and profound upheaval within the world of advertising. The share prices of all the major ad groups, such as WPP, Publicis and Omnicom, are down [...]

  • R&B Singer Ann Marie Signs With

    R&B Singer Ann Marie Signs With Interscope Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Chicago-based R&B singer-songwriter Ann Marie, known for her hit “Secret” with YK Osiris, has signed with Interscope Records, the company announced exclusively to Variety today. “Ann Marie is the prototype for today’s artist,” says Nicole Wyskoarko, the label’s EVP of urban operations. “She’s developed and cultivated a dedicated fan base using the tools of today [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content