Top Hearst Corp. entertainment executive Scott Sassa has exited the company, Deadline has confirmed. The news is not entirely surprising as Sassa has been known for his living-on-the-edge lifestyle that clashed with the rather conservative top Hearst brass. Still, the circumstances of his departure are bizarre. There have been unconfirmed reports of inappropriate behavior. At Hearst, Sassa oversaw the company’s interests in ESPN, Lifetime and other networks including the History Channel. He brought Mark Burnett to the fold (Hearst owns 50% of Mark Burnett Prods.), and serves as a producer on Burnett’s blockbuster History miniseries The Bible. Prior to Hearst, Sassa was the top West Coast executive at NBC and also worked at Turner Entertainment and Fox Broadcasting Co. His Facebook page lists him as former president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.
NBCUniversal may bring in a partner in the upcoming revamp of struggling cable channel G4. I hear that NBCU is in talks with Hearst about partnering on the channel. What’s more, I hear the two sides are exploring a rebranding of the channel tied to the Heast-owned men’s magazine Esquire, possibly as Esquire Channel. Associating G4 with a brand like Esquire would make sense since NBCU had been looking to keep the male-centric nature of the channel but make it more upscale and sophisticated, which is what Esquire is about. NBCU declined comment.
NBCU decided to go with an upscale makeover for G4 after overtures from the likes of UFC and WWE to take a controlling stake in the channel last year fell through. A deal for G4 would reunite NBCU and Hearst, which were co-owners of A+E Networks until NBCU cashed its stake in July. Hearst’s cable holdings include stakes in A+E’s A&E, Lifetime and History, as well as ESPN. As part of G4′s evolution from a gaming/tech channel (as part of Comcast, it was merged with TechTV in 2004) to a more upscale, sophisticated network, G4 announced in October that it is cancelling long-running series Attack Of The Show! and X-Play.
Rebranding G4 would fit into the strategy of NBCU cable maven Bonnie Hammer, who added control of E! and G4 after the … Read More »
Hearst Corp. has acquired 50% of NorthSouth Prods., an independent producer of cable non-scripted programming, to form a joint venture. It will be part of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, run by Scott Sassa, which includes ownership in cable networks A&E, History and ESPN; and a similar joint venture with Mark Burnett’s One Three Media, which has hits The Voice and Shark Tank on the air.
Founded by Charlie DeBevoise and Mark Hickman in 2000, NorthSouth has corporate offices in New York City and Knoxville, Tenn., and production facilities in Atlanta and Los Angeles. It has produced reality series for most major cable networks with a current series portfolio that includes Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta and Say Yes To The Dress: Bridesmaids on TLC and upcoming hidden camera comedy series Impractical Jokers on truTV. The first season of Lovetown, a co-production with the BBC, just wrapped for OWN. Read More »