THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
A self-described "trailblazer," Ross was the first woman to head advertising sales for a major U.S. broadcast network. As of last year, she is the longest-serving in her position among all broadcasters, having started in 2002. During the most recent ad sales upfront, she led the No. 1 network to the largest increase in the industry, reportedly raising ad prices 14 percent.
She credits CBS for her accomplishments, declaring that the schedule shake-up that moved Emmy-nominated The Big Bang Theory to Thursdays in fall 2010 was risky but has been a big success. "When you have really good content to sell," she says, "it makes the job easier."
Not that it was an easy year. On top of a difficult economy and advertisers migrating online, she had to deal with months of uncertainty over the fate of the hit show Two and a Half Men. "It all worked out perfectly for us if you look at the ratings," says Ross, 58, who was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, where her extended family still converges in the summer. "Advertisers accepted Ashton Kutcher and so have viewers."
Her joy is mixed with personal pain from a torn rotator cuff she has lived with for a year. It happened on a snowy Manhattan street as she was walking her 80-pound Labrador retriever Justine. But, Ross says she won't get it fixed because of her fearfullness of of MRIs. "My husband is about ready to kill me," admits Ross with a laugh, referring to Michael Zelman, her husband of 27 years, a physician and anesthesiologist.
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