CBS Corp. joins ranks of firms cutting staff

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The wave of industrywide layoffs has reached CBS Corp. Employees of CBS Entertainment and CBS Paramount Network TV were let go Monday at the company's Studio City and Television City lots.

The cuts — believed to involve dozens of employees — claimed two high-profile CBS Par TV executives: executive vp Maria Crenna, who served as the studio's No. 2 executive under president David Stapf, and senior vp and head of comedy Brian Banks. Both are 11-year CBS veterans.

Also gone at CBS Par is vp current programming Jocelyn Freid.

CBS' development teams were not affected. There were some lower-level layoffs in the network's current department.

Although far from the scope of the executive bloodbath at NBC last week — when most heads of departments at the network and the studio were pinkslipped in a restructuring that saw NBC and Universal Media Studios merging operations — the dismissal of two top executives at CBS Par raises the question about a possible convergence of the studio with CBS. (ABC is mulling a similar move with ABC Studios.)

However, a CBS insider stressed that the divisions will continue to operate independently. CBS and CBS Par are part of CBS Par TV Network Entertainment Group, run by Nancy Tellem.

Before its merger with Viacom's Paramount TV, CBS had an in-house production company, CBS Prods., which was headed by Crenna. She was named exec vp at the combined CBS Par TV at its inception in 2004.

Banks also hails from CBS Prods. and was appointed head of comedy at CBS Par TV at its launch. (partialdiff)
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