Lion roars in U.S. with Tackaberry

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As part of its ongoing stateside expansion, Lion Television has named Tony Tackaberry its first U.S.-based CEO.

The British production company also has expanded Lion executive vp Tracy Green's duties and hired two development executives.

In addition, the company said it has received renewals for its series "Cash Cab" from Discovery Channel and "History Detectives" on PBS.

Tackaberry, who most recently oversaw the company's stateside growth in New York as executive vp, will oversee the company's operations in New York and Los Angeles and take on the strategic role of planning and leading Lion's growth. Nick Catliff had been Lion's CEO, based in London, and continues as co-managing director of Lion Television and president of Lion.

"In just five years, Tony has transformed Lion's New York operations from a startup into a highly successful business making over 100 hours of primetime programming for American cable and terrestrial broadcasters," Catliff said. "He is the ideal person to take on the challenge of bringing the New York and Los Angeles operations together as a single creative business."

In Los Angeles, Green has taken on an expanded role within Lion's parent company, All3 Media, which is headed by CEO Steve Morrison. Along with her current duties, Green will now take charge of All3's drive to bring the formats being created by its companies in the U.K. and throughout Europe to the U.S. market. All3 has acquired companies like Germany's MME.

The new development executives are Kevin Kappock, who becomes West Coast vp after serving as vp development at LMNO, and former Granada staffer Anita Shah, who has been named director of development in New York.

Meanwhile, Discovery has ordered 40 more episodes of the quiz show "Cash Cab," originally a U.K. format, and "Detectives" will return for its sixth season next year, Tackaberry said. In addition, Lion is working on a "You Spoof 2.0," an hourlong viewer-generated spoof special for Discovery that's hosted by "Cash Cab's" Ben Bailey. Lion also has in the works a pilot for the tentatively titled "HD-Lab," a multimedia program for educators and students that's designed to serve as a companion to "Detectives."

Tackaberry noted that Lion's production for 2007 increased 40% to 140 original hours of programming and that the timing was right to ramp up the company's U.S. expansion. He added that Lion will be increasing its development spending by almost 50% this year.

"We've had consistent growth, but we've had two operations, in New York and Los Angeles," he said. "Now we're creating a single structure where we're one development entity working across both coasts. We have a fantastic foundation in place, and now we're ready to take it to the next level in the U.S."
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