Michael Ogiens, a longtime CBS programming head and exec producer of TNT’s “The Lazarus Man,” died in his sleep on May 25. He was 69.
Ogiens began his executive career with CBS in Los Angeles, where he was born, and went on to spend 14 years with the company. As the VP of daytime programs, Ogiens was in charge of production on games and soaps such as “The Price Is Right’ and “The Young and The Restless.”
After a promotion to VP of daytime and children’s programming, Ogiens’ career gained traction and he soon made the change to vice president of programs and the primetime slot. In this role, Ogiens was integral in reigniting east coast production in New York. This effort included shows such as 1984 comedies “Kate and Allie,” “Charles in Charge,” and 1985 drama “Foley Square.” Ogiens also presided over the development of the shows “My Sister Sam” and “Designing Women” after he relocated back to Los Angeles to take over as VP of comedy development.
Ogiens teamed up with former CBS colleague Josh Kane to found the Ogiens/Kane Company, a shingle that developed and produced films and series in conjunction with studios like MGM/UA, Warner Bros., and Castle Rock. On the roster were series like “The Young Riders,” “Trenchcoat In Paradise,” “Into the Badlands,” and “The Lot.” He also helmed “The Lazarus Man,” starring Robert Ulrich as a Civil War soldier who wakes up in Confederate uniform with a Union pistol and no memory of what happened to him. Although the series was renewed for a second season by TNT, it was canceled by Castle Rock after Ulrich was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma, spawning a lawsuit between the actor and Castle Rock.
After amassing a wealth of broadcast and production experience, Ogiens was recruited by MTM Productions to assume leadership as the company’s president and help revive its brand. During his tenure, the production company unveiled such programs as “The Pretender,” “Orleans,” “Sparks,” and “Good News.” His more recent credits include executive producer of Hallmark Channel’s 2015 TV films “All of My Heart,” “A Country Wedding,” and 2016’s “Love You Like Christmas.” He was in pre-production for “I Married the Best Man” and “All of My Heart the Sequel” at the time of his death.
Ogiens was a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Science and the Hollywood Radio and Television Society. He was also involved with the Friends of the Los Angeles Free Clinic, where he was instrumental in the organization’s fundraising activities as a board member and past president.
Ogiens is survived by his wife of 28 years, Renee, and two daughters, Emma and Kate. Donations may be made to the Los Angeles Free Clinic, now known as the Saban Community Clinic.