Lifetime president and CEO Andrea Wong exits

Exec orchestrated 'Project Runway' acquisition for Lifetime

Andrea Wong is exiting as president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, the company confirmed Friday.

A possible exit for the ABC-Disney veteran had been rumored since Lifetime was taken over by A&E Television Networks in August, with AETN president and CEO Abbe Raven assuming oversight of Lifetime and Wong reporting to her.

The merger created the awkward situation of two executives, Raven and Wong, carrying a CEO title, something usually resolved by one of the executives leaving.

"Now that my role in the acquisition of Lifetime by AETN is concluded and the integration of the organizations including a more streamlined management structure nearly complete, I believe that it is the right time for me to step down," Wong wrote in an internal email, noting that she plans to depart "in the coming weeks after assisting in any way I can with the transition."

It was not clear where Wong is headed. She had been a rising star at Disney-ABC and ran ABC's unscripted department before moving over to Lifetime, then 50%-owned by Disney-ABC.

It is possible that she'll return to the Disney fold but sources indicated that a post at another company appears more likely.

In a statement, Raven thanked Wong "for her many contributions to Lifetime."

"We are pleased she will be with us for a transition period and we wish her well in her future endeavors," Raven wrote.

There is no word on a replacement for Wong either, but a rising star on the other side of the newly merged company, History Channel president and general manager Nancy Dubuc, is considered the leading contender.

Under Dubuc, History has posted double-digit growth for the past two years, which is probably not lost on the new owners of ratings-challenged Lifetime.

Wong's successor is not expected to carry a CEO title, with the position said to be at the president/GM level, in line with the rest of the AETN networks.

Wong's executive team at Lifetime, led by executive vp entertainment JoAnn Alfano, is staying on.

"Andrea has built a great team and I look forward to working with them closely," Raven said in a company-wide email Friday.

While at Lifetime, Wong's biggest move was orchestrating the acquisition of Bravo's "Project Runway."

After lengthy litigation between Bravo's parent NBC Universal and "Runway" producer the Weinstein Co., the hit reality show made its Lifetime premiere last fall. It did solid business but failed to reach its former ratings heights on Bravo.

Overall, Lifetime has been in a ratings slump and recently went through company-wide layoffs.
The network finished 2009 out of the top 10 in the ratings for the first time in recent memory, dropping from No.7 to No.15 and falling 20% in total viewers year-to-year.

Its development had been put on hold as the new regime is examining its programming.

The news of Wong's exit was first reported on deadline.com
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