By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
No deal is done yet, but Hartenstein is first choice on the shortlist. The 57-year-old rocket scientist (yes, really) is a name well-known to Hollywood since he was the Big Kahuna in the development of modern-day satellite television, serving as DirecTV’s CEO, chairman, vice chairman and president from the company’s inception in 1990 until 2004, when he left after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp bought DirectTV.
OK, so why Hartenstein for the L.A. Times gig? I’m told it’s because he understands subscription-based product and new media distribution after taking DirecTV from zero to 12.5 million subscribers despite facing very stiff competition from cable. Hiring Hartenstein would seem to be an unusually smart move by Tribune Co owner Sam Zell. But why is Hartenstein jumping onboard the Titanic? “He doesn’t need a job, he needs an adventure,” one source explained to me. “He’s looking for the next bounce.”
What’s Really Afoot at ABC Studios
Expect an announcement in the next days that Morgan Wandell, the senior vice president of drama development at ABC Studios, is going to run Brothers & Sisters, Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money producer Greg Berlanti’s hot company under a new multimillion-dollar and multiyear development deal there. But here’s what won’t be in the press release: Wandell was supposed to get the job of ABC Studios executive vice president of development, being vacated by Julia Franz. He didn’t because ABC Entertainment topper Steve McPherson blocked it.
I’m told McPherson was royally pissed when he passed on Wandell’s development of Criminal Minds and The Ghost Whisperer only to see Wandell sell the shows to CBS. (Here’s the pot calling the kettle black, because when McPherson was head of Touchstone TV — the predecessor to ABC Studios — he sold CSI to CBS after ABC passed.) McPherson has long had a bug up his ass about ABC Studios, which is why, in his recent contract negotiation, he threatened to leave unless he could run that company as well. But this was nixed by his boss, Anne Sweeney, and McPherson signed a new deal in May.
Now McPherson and ABC Studios chief Mark Pedowitz uneasily coexist despite hating each other. But they’re bonded in their mutual disdain for Sweeney, who’s not fond of them, either.
This is why I so love Hollywood.
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