EXCLUSIVE: A week after former top Fox Broadcasting Co. development executive Matt Cherniss was named President/General Manager of Tribune’s superstation WGN America and the newly formed Tribune Studios, another former Fox development executive is headed to Tribune. Jon Wax has been named SVP Scripted Programming at WGN America and Tribune Studios. He will start in May when his current contract at 20th Century Fox TV is up. Wax will shepherd scripted series development for both entities and reunite with Cherniss and Tribune CEO Peter Liguori, with whom he worked at Fox. Wax spent a decade at Fox, rising to VP Development, where he helped develop Prison Break, Bones, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Lie To Me. (Liguori was Fox entertainment chairman; Cherniss was EVP Programming.) For the past four years, Wax was VP Drama Development at 20th TV, where he is currently overseeing the studio’s pilots Anatomy Of Violence for CBS, and Gang Related and The List for Fox. He has been the point person for two of 20th highest-profile pods, Howard Gordon’s Teakwood Lane and Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment, and was instrumental in the development of 20th TV/Chernin’s Fox drama series Terra Nova.
UPDATED: Former Fox Broadcasting Co. and FX executive Matt Cherniss is returning to the TV business and reuniting with his former boss Peter Liguori. Cherniss is joining Tribune Co. as President/General Manager of WGN America and the newly formed Tribune Studios. At superstation WGN, Cherniss replaces Julio Marenghi, who has been named President of Broadcast Media Sales.
Tribune Studios marks Tribune’s official re-entry in the TV production business. The company was a leading producer and distributor of first-run syndication programming in the 1980s and ’90s through its division Tribune Entertainment until it was shut down in 2007. In the past couple of years, Tribune had signaled its interest in re-entering the space. It produces and distributes daytime syndicated program The Bill Cunningham Show and has interest in CBS’ Arsenio Hall late-night talk show and The Test, which will launch on Tribune’s 23 local TV stations in the fall. With Tribune Studios, the company plans to build on and expand what it is doing on Arsenio Hall and The Test by producing and co-producing programming that targets the needs of its stations and the superstation, Tribune CEO Liguori said, noting that “No longer can a media company look at their stations and network as a vehicle to deliver ratings and ad revenue, it’s a much bigger play.”