Billy Kimball is leaving startup news-and-satire cable network Fusion and will be replaced as chief programming officer by Wade Beckett, a former showrunner of ESPN’s SportsNation” and former executive at NBCUniversal’s G4.
“Throughout his tenure, Billy has worked tirelessly to constantly improve our existing shows, nurture our talent, and develop exciting new projects, many of which are now reaching the pilot phase,” said Fusion CEO Isaac Lee in a memo to staffers. “As you all know, Billy is a brilliant producer and we hope to continue working with him on a number of projects in the future.”
Beckett is slated to join Fusion in October.
Kimball is one of the architects of an iconoclastic lineup that mixes hard-news analysis from veterans like Jorge Ramos with youth-skewing satirical programs such as “No, You Shut Up” that featured a talking hot dog and other anthropomorphic creatures holding forth on the most topical issues of the day.
The idea at the network, owned jointly by ABC News and Univision, has been to offer what Kimball in a January interview with Variety called “dinner and dessert.” When broadcasting the most recent State of the Union address by President Obama earlier this year, Fusion let its talking creatures offer commentary during a live feed, rather than its more traditional talent. “As far as I’m aware, Hot Dog is the only talking luncheon meat on television at the moment,” Kimball said at the time.
He is a veteran of TV humor, having logged time at “Not Necessarily The News,” CBS’ “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” and Fox’s early-era latenight effort, “The Wilton North Report.” Among the ideas he led at Fusion was an effort to cover trending and newsworthy events, but not in the same way as other outlets, a nod to the millennial audience Fusion is hoping to court.
In Beckett, Fusion has found an experienced hand in TV that courts emerging generations. Beckett spent over six years at NBCUniversal’s G4 network, where he created and managed a number of studio and field-based programs that captured the attention of the hard-to-reach younger crowd. One of those programs was “X-Play,” a tentpole at G4 that aimed at viewers interested in video games and technology. He also oversaw the network’s yearly live broadcasts of E3 and San Diego’s Comic Con convention as well as “Icons,” a series of biographical specials on subjects ranging from J.J. Abrams to The Onion and Lollapalooza.
“I look forward to seeing Wade’s enthusiasm, ideas, and leadership spread throughout Fusion as we experiment and innovate with new ways to connect our young, diverse audience to the stories that matter most to them,” Lee said,