Monday, July 9, 2007


Fox names Reilly president
Liguori promoted to entertainment chairman

The network has changed, but the title's the same: Less than two months after he was pushed out of NBC, Kevin Reilly is back in the entertainment president's chair -- but this time at Fox.

To make room for Reilly, as expected (Daily Variety, July 6) current entertainment topper Peter Liguori has been bumped up to Fox Entertainment chairman. New arrangement will mimic the Liguori-Reilly one-two punch the duo operated under at FX, until Reilly left for NBC in 2003.

News Corp. prexy-chief operating officer Peter Chernin announced the shuffle Monday afternoon.

"The television industry has changed more in the last five years than in the past 20," Chernin said. "We need to be structured in a way that puts us in the best position take advantage of the myriad new opportunities digital technology has afforded the broadcast television business. When Peter Liguori approached me with the idea of re-teaming with Kevin Reilly, I thought it was a bold move to redefine the structure of the network behind a pair of dynamic executives who have a proven track record of advancing the medium."

Word of Reilly's courtship at Fox first came last week in the midst of Independence Day -- marking the second time this summer that Reilly dominated the TV gossip during what should have been a lazy holiday period. Reilly's ouster at NBC, in which the Peacock installed Ben Silverman to serve as co-chairman with Marc Graboff, happened over the Memorial Day weekend.

Reilly's shift to Fox caps a whirlwind six weeks for the former Peacock exec. Less than two months ago, he stood in front of advertisers at NBC's upfront presentation, proudly presenting a schedule he believed would help the net continue its climb out of the ratings basement. Having just inked a long-term deal with the net, he had no reason to believe that he wouldn't be at NBC to help launch those shows in the fall.

Now, Reilly finds himself at what been his chief rival -- where one of his main missions will be to ensure that none of the shows he helped develop for NBC get a chance to succeed. Not only will he have to kill his own young, he'll also find himself having to hype a new batch of Fox pilots he had nothing to do with. Under the new arrangement, Reilly will report to Liguori.

"I couldn't be happier to rejoin Peter Chernin and the Fox family and to collaborate again with my good friend Peter Liguori, who shares my view of being competitive by being creatively adventurous," Reilly said. "The company has a top-down vision and the network has a collaborative environment and winning track record fostered by Peter Liguori, which I personally look forward to as a refreshing change of pace, and have no doubt will be the formula to keep Fox the leader on all fronts for years to come."

While Reilly and Liguori share a bond from their days together at FX, people familiar with their relationship say the two men weren't close personal friends -- not in the way, at least, that Reilly and ABC Entertainment prexy Stephen McPherson are close.

The Fox shakeup returns the News Corp.-owned net to what had become an almost familiar pattern. Until Gail Berman's relatively peaceful five-year run at Fox, net had become known for making some sort of major exec change about once every two years or so. Difference this time, of course, is that Liguori is staying with Fox.

"I'm thrilled to be working with my good friend Kevin again. We have complementary strengths, but more importantly, we have fun working together and we enjoy sharing that spirit with the rest of the team," Liguori said. "Fox is television's premier brand and I am excited to take on a role that requires more long-term strategic vision at a time when Fox has the opportunity to become an even bigger force in this quickly evolving media landscape."

It's also not the first time that Fox's entertainment division has operated with both a chairman and a president -- although the circumstances have been different each time. For most of Berman's tenure, she worked with Sandy Grushow, who oversaw both the net and 20th Century Fox TV studio as Fox Entertainment Group chairman. Also, Fox Sports czar David Hill wore dual hats for a time as Fox Entertainment chairman, working with entertainment prexies Peter Roth and Doug Herzog.

No comments: