Starz rearranges management team

Starz shuffles management responsibilities

Starz has quietly shuffled the management decks for its TV operations with the hopes of establishing clear points of entry for the creative community.

Oversight for disparate TV efforts at Starz Entertainment, which oversees the brand's linear and VOD channels, and Starz Media, the umbrella group for such third-party programming providers as Anchor Bay Entertainment and Film Roman, will be consolidated under Bill Myers, president and COO of Starz Entertainment, as will Starz's digital content operations.

William Hamm, executive vp creative development Starz Media, will take on production and development for Starz Entertainment's original programming, while retaining a similar role at Starz Media. Stephan Shelanski, executive vp Starz Entertainment, will no longer serve as Hollywood's point man for teeing up original programming, but will extend his oversight of acquisitions beyond the channels to Starz Media's home video, syndication and overseas outlets.

Hamm, who previously reported to Kent Rice, president and COO of Starz Media, will now report to Myers, to whom Shelanski continues to report. Rice continues to oversee Starz Animation.

The move mirrors a similar streamlining Starz disclosed last month for its film operations, giving Overture Films CEO Chris McGurk oversight of Anchor Bay.

The Liberty Media-owned company pulled the trigger on the changes about a month ago, but did not go public with them to avoid confusing Wall Street. While all divisions involved come under Starz, Starz Media is part of the Liberty Capital tracking stock, while Starz Entertainment remains under Liberty Entertainment.

As the dust settled from Starz's acquisition of IDT Entertainment in 2006, it became clear to align the divisions by product, according to Robert Clasen, chairman and CEO of Starz.

"Obviously our intent is to put all these companies in the same entity at some point," he said.

Starz makes the changes as original programming for its channels is gathering momentum under Shelanski's direction. Its first original series, an adaptation of the Oscar-winning theatrical "Crash," is shooting in Mexico, while shortform efforts "Head Case" and "Hollywood Residential" are on air.

Starz Media also has been ramping up its own programming efforts, including the creation of some of Lifetime's most-watched original movies this year.

The realignment also consolidates TV operations in Los Angeles as opposed to Denver, where Starz Entertainment is based.

Shelanski will remain involved in original programming efforts; he functions as a buyer for Starz's channels of the productions that Hamm will be selling. Previously, Starz Media and Starz Entertainment occasionally found themselves competing for the same programming, or one division would pass on content that was a good fit for the other.

Clasen said he did not anticipate job cuts as a result of the shifts, though some positions will transfer from Denver to Los Angeles. However, the relocation of the programming division means Michael Ruggiero, vp original programming at Starz, will exit the company in September; he helped launch the original programming division with Shelanski.

Digital content also will come under Myers, with Edward Huguez, executive vp affiliate sales, now reporting to him. Reporting to Huguez is Marc DeBevoise, senior vp business development and strategy, who oversees digital content licensing. DeBevoise previously reported to Rice.
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