Entertainment Industry

Category: Bonnie Hammer

NBCUniversal names Adam Stotsky G4 general manager

Man3Veteran NBC marketer Adam Stotsky is now officially a gamer.

NBCUniversal announced Thursday that Stotsky had stepped into the role of general manager of the company's tiny G4 television network, which targets young male viewers by attempting to be the TV destination for video game players. 

Stotsky previously served as president of marketing for NBC Entertainment and spearheaded the "NBC: More Colorful" campaign. He replaces G4's president of the last six years, Neal Tiles, who NBCUniversal said was leaving to "pursue new challenges."

Stotsky will report to Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, whom Stotsky worked with during his 2001-2008 tenure at NBCUniversal's Syfy network. Hammer took over the G4 network a year ago, when its owner Comcast Corp. assumed control of NBCUniversal.

"I've known Adam for many years, having worked with him at Syfy during an amazing period in the network’s evolution," Hammer said in a memo to the G4 staff. "He energized the Syfy brand and helped take it to an unprecedented place at the top of the ratings. I'm convinced that he can do the same thing for G4." 

The G4 network is available in 59 million cable and satellite TV homes, and its signature programs include "Attack of the Show!," "X-Play" and "American Ninja Warrior."

Thursday afternoon, G4 staff members were invited to meet Stotsky at a town hall meeting at the group's Wilshire Boulevard offices. 

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-- Meg James

Photo of Adam Stotsky;  Credit:  NBCUniversal  

Key NBC executive Marc Graboff to leave the network

MarkraboffStory2
Marc Graboff, president of NBC's West Coast business operations and the TV network's longtime consigliere, is leaving the company, according to people familiar with the situation.

The move was not a complete surprise because Graboff's role gradually had been diminishing in recent years, particularly after the takeover of NBCUniversal by cable giant Comcast Corp. in January. His departure will continue a dramatic makeover of NBC Entertainment's management under Comcast.

An NBC spokesman confirmed Graboff's exit, saying, "His departure is absolutely amicable.  Since the transition is now complete, Marc wants to pursue the next phase of his career, which will not include working for a television network." Graboff did not return calls to his office.  

The lawyer who served more than 11 years as the point person for NBC's dealings with producers, writers and talent agents -- had nearly two years remaining on his contract. 

Graboff had signed a new three-year contract in August 2010, a few months before Comcast took control. Many had expected the executive to stick around to help the new regime navigate NBC's web of complicated relationships with talent. 

Although well liked in Hollywood, Graboff was not universally loved within NBC. For one, he alienated Bonnie Hammer, the influential chairman of NBC Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. The two executives clashed over business priorities for the company. 

Graboff has held key jobs in the TV industry for more than 14 years. Early in his career, he worked as an assistant to former top talent agent Ron Meyer, now president of Universal Studios.  He joined NBC from CBS in 2000,  just as former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker was taking over NBC's entertainment division in Burbank.

At NBC, Graboff became Zucker's go-to guy, negotiating key deals, including keeping the cast of "Friends" on the show for two years longer than planned. Because of Graboff's affable personality, Zucker often relied on him to be NBC's business ambassador and deal with prickly personalities.

In 2007, when Zucker hired Ben Silverman to be NBC's chief programmer, he elevated Graboff to the job of chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. Graboff was positioned as Silverman's equal in stature and authority as both were charged with overseeing the network as well as NBC's in-house production studio. However, the arrangement became an unmitigated disaster.

The free-spirited Silverman quickly anointed himself the "rock star entertainment chairman," missed meetings, publicly bragged about his penchant for partying. He also lobbied for NBC to buy projects produced by his independent studio Reveille.

Graboff's job devolved into one of chief babysitter and referee.  He unsuccessfully pushed back against NBC's purchase of about a dozen of Reveille's projects. He had to soothe hard feelings when Silverman ruffled feathers of key agents and producers. Graboff also attempted to be the peacemaker amid warring factions within NBC. Silverman left the company in 2009 without fielding a hit.

NBC continues to struggle to find new hits and lags in the ratings. "Sunday Night Football" is the only NBC program that consistently ranks among the Nielsen Co.'s top 20 TV shows. 

-- Meg James

Photo: Marc Graboff. Credit: Mitch Haaseth / NBCUniversal

Suzanne Kolb tapped as president of E! channel

Marketing stylista Suzanne Kolb was named president of E! Entertainment, the Comcast Corp. cable channel that earlier this year joined the NBCUniversal constellation. Suzanne_Kolb

Kolb, a six-year veteran of the channel, previously served as head of marketing, news and digital entertainment for E! and the Style Network. The promotion was announced Thursday. Kolb now reports to Bonnie Hammer, chairwoman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.

"As a member of E!'s leadership team, Suzanne has played a pivotal role in getting the network to the great place it is today," Hammer said in a statement. "Her strong oversight of three areas key to E!'s success -- news, online and marketing -- makes her the perfect person to lead the brand through the important next phase of its evolution."

The company credits Kolb with helping shape E! into, in its words, a "top global entertainment news brand." She also was responsible for marketing and creative direction for some of the network's biggest hits, including the "Kardashians" franchise, "Chelsea Lately," "The Soup" and "Fashion Police."

"E! has enjoyed great success in the past but we're just getting started," Kolb said in a statement. Prior to joining E! in 2005, she was an executive vice president of marketing for the now defunct WB television network.

-- Meg James

Photo: Suzanne Kolb. Credit: E! Entertainment

NBCUniversal names Beth Roberts to key cable post

One of NBCUniversal's high-powered and well-respected business executives -- Beth Roberts -- has joined Team Hammer.

Roberts on Wednesday was named chief operating officer of Universal Cable Productions, reporting to Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal's Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios unit. Hammer has oversight of several of the media giant's cable channels including USA, Syfy and E!

Beth Roberts - COO Universal Cable Productions The company said in a statement that Roberts will spearhead "the strategic and financial growth of Universal Cable Productions," in addition to overseeing business affairs for the cable channels controlled by Hammer.

Universal Cable Productions has been managed by a committee that includes Mark Stern and Jeff Wachtel, who share the title of co-head of original content; and Jerry DiCanio, head of production, and Roberts. Now she will be in charge of the studio's day-to-day operations.

"As a business affairs executive, Beth has always struck a perfect balance between strategic vision and fiscal discipline," Hammer said in the statement.  "That's exactly what we need to take UCP to the next level, so Beth's new role is an ideal expansion of her responsibilities."

Previously, Roberts served as executive vice president of business affairs for NBCUniversal's large cable portfolio.  Comcast, which took over NBCUniversal in late January, divided the cable properties into two groups, one overseen by Hammer, the longtime head of USA Network and Syfy, and the other group managed by Lauren Zalaznick, who has been responsible for Bravo. Zalaznick was given the more eclectic group, which includes Comcast's digital properties like Fandango and Daily Candy, and Spanish-language network Telemundo.

-- Meg James

Photo of Beth Roberts courtesy of NBCUniversal

 

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