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TV Academy Elects Bruce Rosenblum as Chairman and CEO

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Bruce Rosenblum Executive Headshot - P 2011
Bruce Rosenblum

UPDATED: The Warner Bros. Television Group president becomes the first high-level TV executive to lead the organization best known for giving out the Primetime Emmy Awards since 1997.

For the first time in 14 years, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has elected a top industry executive as its chairman and CEO. Bruce Rosenblum takes on the high-profile but unpaid position in addition to his job as president of the Warner Bros. Television Group and member of the Office of the President of Warner Bros.

He is the first high-level TV executive to lead the organization best known for giving out the Primetime Emmy Awards since Rich Frank ended his terms in office in 1997. At that time, Frank was also president of Walt Disney’s television operations.

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Rosenblum replaces John Shaffner, who was termed out after two terms and not eligible to run for re-election. Shaffner is a production designer who has done most of his work at Warner Bros., on such shows as Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men.

The idea that one of TV’s top executives would lead the academy was an issue in the election, in which Rosenblum faced a heated contest with Nancy Bradley Wiard, a freelance TV producer and consultant. She has done projects for TV One and previously was a producer on the TV soap opera The Young & the Restless, from 1973-2003.

The issue was whether Rosenblum, who was recruited by some ATAS board members to reinvigorate the nonprofit group’s leadership, should be chosen over Wiard, who had worked her way up through the organization, serving on numerous committees. She most recently has been the ATAS vice chair and co-chairs the academy’s anomalies committee and is a member of the activities and by-laws committees. She also was part of the group that earlier this year negotiated a new eight-year contract for the four major broadcast networks to continue carrying the Emmy Awards.

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It is what is unspoken in that new contract with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox that makes this election especially important. Over the next seven years, there will be opportunities to make changes in the show, such as dropping certain categories to speed things up and make room for more pure entertainment.

Wiard was known to have been instrumental in the decision by ATAS to fold together the TV movie and miniseries category.

Some board members believe Rosenblum, who is on the same level as the top network executives, will be better able to make the right deal. Others think that he is too close to the network heads and that he might be susceptible to going along with their wishes.

There is also concern that some ATAS board members may not want to confront Rosenblum because they will fear he might then not hire them to work at Warner Bros., which is the top supplier to the major TV and cable networks and has been for 18 of the past 20 years.

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Within ATAS, everyone is a peer. That means a production designer or writer or publicist or director is the equal of a top executive like Rosenblum, at least in theory.

The election of new officers is not a vote by all 6,000 ATAS members. Rather the election is by representatives of each of the peer groups within the academy and the executive committee. That means about 80 people vote after each candidate is allowed to make a brief statement about their intentions.

Rosenblum has said that he is taking on this time consuming task because he wants to help guide an important industry organization at a time of great change in the business of television. He is known as a man of great integrity and has an excellent business reputation.

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Rosenblum has also said in recent weeks that his agenda would be to expand the diversity of the ATAS membership, promote anti-piracy efforts, encourage local production and help create employment opportunities for everyone in the industry.

Rosenblum, who is 53 years old, has headed the Warner TV group since 2005 and before that was executive vp for six years. He played a central role in the deal that created the CW, a joint venture of Warner and CBS.

Rosenblum joined Warner in 1989 when it acquired Lorimar Telepictures, where he was vp business affairs. He began his career in entertainment law in 1982. He is a graduate of USC and has his law degree from UCLA.