Peter Liguori Mulling Exit From Discovery
This is now happening — I have learned that Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori will be leaving the company after two years. The veteran TV executive is expected to stick around until the end of the year. (He started at Discovery in January 2010.) He will not be replaced. Liguori, who previously ran Fox and FX, is the latest top Discovery Communications executive to exit as the company’s president and CEO David Zaslav now faces three upcoming major departures in his upper ranks; Discovery Channel president Clark Bunting and Discovery Communications CFO Bradley Singer both announced earlier this year that they will leave at the beginning of 2012. Bunting’s announcement came a couple of months after he was made to report to TLC General Manager Eileen O’Neill in an executive restructuring. Despite beating earnings expectations in the just-reported third quarter, Discovery Communications continues to struggle with its joint ventures, especially OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which sucked up another $12 million investment in 3Q. Liguori was hands-on involved in the January launch of OWN and in May he was named interim CEO of the fledgling cable network following the departure of Christina Norman. Two months later, Winfrey took over the CEO position, and Liguori’s involvement decreased to a point of him having no day-to-day role at the channel. In addition to representing Discovery Communications in its three joint ventures — OWN; The Hub, which also has had a hard time; and 3Net — Liguori’s duties as COO included oversight of Marketing, Discovery Studios, Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs, Business Affairs, and Media Technology, Production and Operations.
UPDATE 6:15AM: Discovery just put out a release announcing Liguori’s departure:
Silver Spring, Md. – Discovery Communications today announced that Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori has decided to depart the company at the end of the year. Liguori was responsible for launching numerous creative and brand marketing initiatives around the world, including overseeing the successful launches of Discovery’s joint ventures in The Hub, OWN, and 3net.
President and CEO David Zaslav said, “Pete’s leadership, enthusiasm and creative vision have brought a fresh and important perspective to Discovery.
Read More »
OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network will debut a new programming block, “Super Soul Sunday,” on October 16. The three-hour block will include never-before-seen episodes of Oprah’s Soul Series, which features one-on-one conversations between Winfrey and various authors, thinkers and spiritual leaders; feature-length documentaries; and short-form content from Soul Pancake, the production company co-founded by Rainn Wilson. “Exploring themes and issues including happiness and personal fulfillment, wellness, spirituality and conscious living, these programs present an array of perspectives on what it means to be alive in today’s world,” the network said in the release unveiling the block.
UPDATE, 6:50 AM: Not much from the conference call with analysts about the most interesting story at Discovery: the recent changes at its struggling joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Oprah recently named herself CEO and Chief Creative Officer. Zaslav says that “she is in place as CEO already,” and “we now have her creative team in place.” That means Discovery COO Peter Ligouri — named OWN’s interim CEO in May when the partners dumped Christina Norman — can “spend more time with us.” Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
TCA: OWN Announces Premiere Dates For ‘Rosie’ & ‘OWN Your Life’
Oprah Winfrey blew through the TCA press tour today to address critics at a morning session promoting OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, having been freshly installed as CEO of the network owned by Discovery Communications. She’d acknowledged earlier this summer that she hadn’t been dedicating all of her energies to OWN and aimed to change that going forward, in part to address its growing pains in the form of falling ratings. ”In my new role, I am focusing on the unity of Harpo and OWN, aligning them together,” she told the gathered critics. To that end, she introduced OWN’s new co-presidents Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, former heads at Harpo Studios who joined the new network in June. It’s no secret that OWN has struggled to find its footing and an identity, with a lineup of cheesy reality shows and little programming flow. Key to that new push is the hiring of Rosie O’Donnell, whom Winfrey also introduced today.
O’Donnell charmed the room with her wisecracking, no-nonsense style, discussing how her coming to OWN went down when she’d been courted by much larger and deeper-pocketed networks. ”I called my agent and told him to call the Oprah people, because I wanted to go to OWN,” she said. “And you know how agents only care about what you want to do, not finances? My agent was thrilled that I wanted to go to basic cable and not one of the major networks. … Oprah came in with a bunch of people from her staff and asked, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ And I’m like, ‘Because it’s you.’ With Oprah, it’s a huge stamp of approval, almost like being knighted in a way.” Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s network, announced an Oct. 10 premiere date for its new nightly Rosie O’Donnell talk show The Rosie Show and OWN Your Life: The Oprah Class. Rosie will air weeknights at 7, OWN Your Life at 8. The latter will feature Winfrey using her library of 4,561 shows as “a teaching tool” to viewers to help them improve their lives, as she said in making a semi-surprise appearance today during the network’s TCA summer press tour session at the Beverly Hilton to introduce O’Donnell. “We’re repackaging the shows to use them as the world’s biggest classroom,” she said.
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and TLC have acquired off-network rights to Undercover Boss from CBS Television Distribution, with the plan to schedule the CBS series beginning in fall 2012. The series averaged more than 17 million viewers an episode during its first season on CBS and was nominated for an Emmy in the Best Reality Show category. Its second season has averaged 12 million viewers. “Undercover Boss is a perfect fit for OWN and TLC as it focuses on improving lives, which very much reflects both networks’ missions,” said Scott Koondel, president, distribution, CBS Television Distribution. “We are excited that their viewers will have the chance to see this exceptional show.”
Hollywood is very much on the minds of cable executives meeting in Chicago this week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual trade show. Introducing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his welcoming remarks, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said that “in our industry he’s known as Ari’s brother” — referring to WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel. The mayor picked up the theme by offering a mock apology on behalf of his family. “You know him as an agent,” he said. “We know him as a brother. We thought we got the worse end of the deal.” He said that when HBO introduced its series Entourage, Ari wanted to know what Rahm thought of the Ari Gold character who’s based on the super agent. “I like Ari Gold more than I like you,” Rahm says he replied. Read More »
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will preempt its regular programming from 4-5 PM ET when the finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show will air in most East Coast markets to run a message directing viewers to the finale. The cable channel is also planning six days of special Oprah-themed programming May 25-May 30 every night at 8:00 PM ET/PT, and from 11AM-6 PM ET/PT Memorial Day Weekend. “We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to honor Oprah than for OWN to celebrate her ongoing legacy and enormous contribution to daytime television,” said Peter Liguori, OWN’s interim CEO. “We will all be watching this truly historic event.” Winfrey’s hiatus from the small screen will be brief as she is slated to launch her new nighttime show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, on OWN in January 2012.
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today that four new series — Unfaithful: Stories Of Betrayal, The Dr. Laura Berman Show, Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind and Carson Nation — will premiere in June. Unfaithful, which follows couples who have survived infidelity in their marriages, is set for June 6 at 9 PM, followed by sex and relationship expert Berman at 10 PM. Visionaries, a documentary series featuring interviews with the likes of Tyler Perry, Tom Ford and James Cameron, premieres June 17 at 10 PM. Carson Nation, featuring Carson Kressley traveling from town to town to do make-overs, debuts June 25 at 10 PM.
Scott Garner, most recently Senior Vice President of Planning, Scheduling & Acquisitions at Lifetime Networks, is moving to OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network as SVP Scheduling & Acquisitions. He will be responsible for strategic planning and scheduling at the channel, along with off-network, first-run and feature acquisitions. “Scott’s extensive experience at Lifetime and Disney makes him a tremendous addition to OWN,” said OWN’s John MacDonald, COO and EVP programming and digital, to whom Garner will report. “He is a terrific strategic thinker, and his thoughtful approach to OWN’s overall programming will be invaluable in today’s dynamic media environment.” At Lifetime, Garner acquired How I Met Your Mother and New Adventures of Old Christine and helped launch Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva and Project Runway. Before that, he was a programming exec at Disney Channel Worldwide.