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In his nearly 30 years in television, McKillop has shepherded some of cable’s biggest unscripted hits, first at Discovery (Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs) and then at History (Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars). With his boss, Nancy Dubuc, he is credited with transforming the latter — once known as the “Hitler channel” for its slate of musty World War II docs — into a Top 5 cable network; History rounded out 2010 ranked No. 3, behind only ESPN and USA, among males 25-54. Now, McKillop plans to do it all over again at A&E, which he was tapped to lead in March. His goal: develop fresh concepts, including those that tap into the nation’s collective sense of post-recession rediscovery. “We’re dealing with such a huge change in who we are as a country and how we define ourselves,” he says, strategically vague for fear of competitors getting there first. But when the workday ends, the exec unwinds in his kitchen. “I’m the rare New Yorker who goes home from work and cooks every night,” he says. “I make a mean Thai curry.”
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