ABC Daytime President Brian Frons Steps Down
Vicki Dummer will take over duties through a new integrated division called Times Square Studios.
After steering ABC through the cancellation of long running soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live, ABC daytime president Brian Frons is leaving the company. He’ll be replaced by Vicki Dummer, senior vp of current series and specials.
Dummer will preside over a new integrated current entertainment and programming division called Times Square Studios that will consolidate daytime and syndicated programming and development. The View, General Hospital, The Chew, The Revolution, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Katie Couric’s upcoming talk show will come under that umbrella.
Live! with Kelly will remain part of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group division.
Dummer, who was named to her current post last June after running the unscripted division with John Saade, will continue to report to ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee. Frons will stay on to assist with the transition and depart at the end of his contract in January.
Frons made the decision to depart, say ABC sources, though it’s unclear where he’ll go next. He was on the receiving end of much of the ire of very vocal soap fans who inundated him with thousands of emails. They also launched protest web sites and even picketed the network’s upfront presentation in New York last May.
Dummer will continue to be based out of ABC's Burbank headquarters. Abra Potkin, formerly of CBS News, joins the company as senior vp of east coast programming and development for Times Square Studios, while Ann Lewis Roberts will be Potkin's counterpart on the west coast. They will both will report to Dummer.
The moves comes at a busy time for ABC daytime which this year launched the lifestyle and cooking show The Chew and in January is set to bow a second lifestyle transformation show called The Revolution, which featured a panel of experts including Project Runway’s Tim Gunn and Home Edition’s Ty Pennington.
Shows like The Chew and The Revolution are much cheaper to produce than soap operas, which have seen their viewership decline in recent years. Meanwhile, ABC has set Couric's talk show Katie for a fall 2012 premiere. It has already been cleared in 80 percent of the country.
Frons joined ABC in 2002 and was promoted to his current position in 2006.
In a statement, Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, characterized Frons as "the driving force" in the network's "successful" daytime division.
"While we understand his decision to leave at the end of his contract, we’re sad to see him go," she said. “We took this opportunity to rethink our business, and the result was the creation of Times Square Studios. Having it be part of the ABC Entertainment Group, under the supervision of proven executives Vicki Dummer and Paul Lee, provides us the opportunity to bring greater creative resources, development strength and operational flexibility to this key area of our business.”
Added Frons: “While my decision to try something new was not arrived at easily, nine years is a long time in television terms. I’m proud of the performance of ABC daytime over that time, and of all of the accomplishments that our team achieved along the way. I’ll miss my colleagues and the wonderful talent that makes our shows, but know they are in very capable hands with Vicki going forward.”