OWN taps Robin Schwartz president

Oprah Winfrey Network ops will be based in L.A.

Regency Television president Robin Schwartz has been named to the same post at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture with Discovery Communications.

The appointment raises further questions about the future of Regency TV, a joint venture between New Regency and Fox TV Studios. The company has no series on the air, and with its rich output deal with Germany's ProSieben having run out, there has been speculation as to whether it will stay as an indie company deficit financing series; become a pod, possibly at sister studio 20th TV; or fold altogether.

In other OWN news, the network's staff and operations will be based in Los Angeles (Winfrey is based in Chicago, while Discovery is based in Silver Spring, Md.).

OWN (currently Discovery Health Channel) will debut in second-half 2009 in 70 million homes. The venture also includes the digital platform, Oprah.com.

Schwartz, whose appointment is effective July 14, will report to OWN's CEO, who has yet to be named. Among the names that have been bandied about as potential candidates for that post include former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia president and CEO Susan Lyne, CW president of entertainment Dawn Ostroff and MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath. Winfrey, who serves as chairman of the network, and Discovery also are planning to name a head of Oprah.com.

As president of OWN, Schwartz will lead all key business functions, including development, programming, production, marketing, research and communications, and will work in partnership with advertising sales and distribution. She said she sparked to the idea of working for a network that "celebrates the best in people" and will draw on her experience in various genres as she develops programming for OWN.

"There are so many different types of programming and formats that we can bring to the channel -- from reality to scripted to magazine to talk -- all the world has to offer," she said. "Our real goal is to have programs that are inspiring and engaging and really connect with viewers."

Schwartz has been with Regency since 2004, overseeing development and production for scripted comedy and drama series. She oversaw the production of "Malcolm in the Middle" and "The Bernie Mac Show" and more recently produced several new series for Fox, including the short-lived "New Amsterdam."

Before Regency, Schwartz was vp programming at ABC Family.
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