Rick Holzman Upped To Animal Planet GM And EVPDiscovery Communications announced this morning Holzman will oversee strategy and all day-to-day operations for Animal Planet. Previously, Holzman served as EVP Programming and Scheduling for Animal Planet and Science Channel. He will continue to report to Marjorie Kaplan, Group President of TLC and Animal Planet.

From today’s announcement:

“Rick Holzman is one of the most brilliant minds in the media industry and a key driver of Animal Planet’s significant growth as an entertainment destination over the last several years,” said Kaplan. ”His leadership, knowledge and incredible passion for this brand make him the perfect General Manager for Animal Planet.”

Holzman has been with Animal Planet since November 2007, during which time he has been instrumental in the network’s rebrand and breakthrough growth, guiding Animal Planet’s programming by overseeing the network’s commissioning, acquisitions, co-productions and scheduling strategy. The best-performing series in network history – including RIVER MONSTERS, TREEHOUSE MASTERS, WHALE WARS, FINDING BIGFOOT and CALL OF THE WILDMAN – have all come to fruition during his strategic tenure, as did MONSTER WEEK, the week-long programming event that propelled Animal Planet to rank among the top-five, ad-supported cable networks.

Prior to joining Animal Planet, Holzman served as Vice President, Programming and Scheduling at Discovery Channel from 2004 to 2007. Under his guidance, the network launched a Tuesday-night slate of programming which included two of Discovery’s most popular franchises ever, DEADLIEST CATCH and DIRTY JOBS. He also commissioned the network’s first-ever game show, the Emmy®-winning CASH CAB, as well as the popular series, STUNT JUNKIES and FUTURE WEAPONS.

Holzman came to Discovery Communications from the Universal  Television Group where he led USA Network’s, first dedicated Programming/Marketing research team from 2001 to 2003.  His audience research expertise helped steer the channel to its highest ratings in recent history and helped to develop, schedule and launch two of the most successful original series in the history of cable television:  ”Monk” and “Dead Zone.”  In 2002, Holzman was elevated to senior vice president of the Universal Television Group’s Strategic Research division, reporting directly to the Chairman of the Universal Television Group.

His time at USA Network followed a successful ten year career at MTV Networks, where Holzman held several leadership roles stemming from his work in audience research/ consumer insights.   Holzman designed and conducted primary music, programming development, lifestyle and branding research for both MTV and VH1, helping the networks to move beyond “music video” programming and into full-blown lifestyle television networks.  He established and led VH1′s first dedicated Research and Planning group which helped lay the groundwork for VH1′s successful repositioning and the highest ratings network history.  Later, Holzman went on to build and oversee MTV’s groundbreaking Online Division, where he helped develop some of the industry’s first TV/Online convergence programming initiatives including Yack Live, Total Request Live, and the first interactive gameshow WebRiot.

Holzman is a graduate of Middlebury College, and began his media career in 1987 at Leo Burnett Co., where he sharpened his analytical and negotiating skills while overseeing the planning and buying for a multi-million dollar media portfolio for Procter and Gamble brands including Pert Plus shampoo.