TV Executive Michael Ogiens Dies at 69

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.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

  • Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star

    Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star in Multi-Camera Comedy Series for Netflix

    Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps are headed to Netflix. The streamer has ordered a multi-camera comedy series starring the two comedians titled “The Upshaws.” The series centers on a working-class Africian American family in Indiana struggling to make it work and make it right without the blueprints to do it. Sykes will executive produce and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content