TLC lures Shapiro-Mathes for president, GM role

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Fox TV Studios president Angela Shapiro-Mathes is returning to the cable world as the new president and GM of Discovery Communications' TLC.

TLC has been without a chief since February, when David Zaslav, who became president and CEO of Discovery Communications at the beginning of the year, announced a major shake-up at the company that saw the departure of several senior executives, including Discovery Networks U.S. president Billy Campbell and TLC president and GM David Abraham.

Replacement for Shapiro-Mathes at FtvS is expected to be named shortly.

Shapiro-Mathes will oversee all aspects at TLC, including development, programming, production, new media, marketing, research and communications. She will report to Zaslav.

"With an enormous depth of experience running Fox Television Studios, ABC Family and ABC Daytime, Angela has a record of achievement that few can match," Zaslav said. " We are the No. 1 nonfiction entertainment company in the world and with Angela at the helm, TLC is positioned to truly break out as a category leader."

Shapiro-Mathes, who served as president of ABC Family and ABC Daytime before joining FtvS in 2004, will be based in Los Angeles, staying close to the creative community and taking advantage of the talent pool of producers of unscripted programming. She will run TLC as DCI's first bi-coastal network with presence in both Hollywood and DCI world headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.

"Discovery Communications has amassed a group of some of the industry's most respected and established brands," said Shapiro-Mathes. "David Zaslav has an unquestionable passion for and commitment to this company, and together, we share a vision for the future of TLC. I am thrilled for the opportunity to be working with him."

TLC has been rebounding from a two-year ratings slide that saw a loss of nearly 40% of primetime viewers from first-quarter 2004 through the beginning of last year. That drop was spurred in part by the aging of "Trading Spaces" as well as multiple knockoffs that started airing on other networks. Although TLC saw its ad revenue wane last year, shows like "Little People, Big World," which recently posted its highest viewership ever, have given the network a boost.

TLC has logged 13 consecutive months of year-on-year audience growth. In first-quarter 2007, the network averaged 910,000 total viewers in primetime (up 15% from first-quarter 2006). In the key adult demos, the network averaged 508,000 adults 18-49 (up 15%) and 514,000 adults 25-54 (up 14%).

Under Shapiro-Mathes' watch, FtvS has developed such projects as series "The Riches" and "Thief" for FX and upcoming "Saving Grace" for TNT starring Holly Hunter, "Burn Notice" for USA. On the unscripted side, FtvS produces CW's upcoming series "Crowned" and Fox's "Duets," from Simon Cowell, who has an overall deal with the company. Additionally, Regency TV, FtvS's co-venture with New Regency, has three high-profile pilots in contention for fall, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" at ABC and "The Return of Jezabel James" and "New Amsterdam" for Fox.

During her stint at ABC Family, Shapiro-Mathes put on the air a string of well-performing romantic comedy telefilms and made gains in its morning and afternoon programming blocks, while the new primetime series launched to mixed results.

As ABC Daytime president, Shapiro-Mathes shepherded "The View's" ratings growth.

In 2000, she added the title of president of Buena Vista Prods. to her duties. She oversaw the development of the syndication version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and was instrumental in the casting of Kelly Ripa as the co-host of "Live With Regis & Kelly."

Prior to joining ABC in 1995 as senior vp marketing and promotion, Shapiro-Mathes devoted more than 20 years to owning and operating several businesses, including Soap Opera Digest magazine, which she co-founded in 1975, and Soap Opera Update, which she launched in 1988.
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