Deborah Blackwell, former general manager of SOAPnet, died yesterday after a seven-year battle with Pick’s disease, a rare neurodegenerative disorder. She passed away at the age of 63 in Virginia, surrounded by family. Blackwell built Disney ABC Cable Networks Group’ SOAPnet, which she ran from 2001 to 2007 as EVP and General Manager. During her tenure, SOAPnet grew its programming slate via a slew of acquisitions of primetime and daytime soaps as well as its distribution as the genre enjoyed popularity. It was after Blackwell left that daytime soaps began to lose traction, leading to Disney’s recent decision to rebrand SOAPnet as Disney Jr. Before joining SOAPnet, Blackwell served as president of Idealab’s MyHome.com, an internet start-up. From 1993-99, Blackwell headed the TV movie and miniseries department of the William Morris Agency, packaging projects with such clients as Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin and Drew Barrymore. Before becoming an agent, Blackwell was a development executive at Hearst Entertainment, rising from director to SVP.
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