MRC ups Joe Hipps to vp in TV division

Executive will focus on production, creative affairs

Media Rights Capital has promoted Joe Hipps to vp production and creative affairs at MRC Television.

This marks the first time indie producer MRC has had a senior executive overseeing its TV operations since October 2008, when the company parted ways with Keith Samples, its first TV head.

Hipps, whose focus will be on the creative side of development and production, will report to MRC co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, who had been running the TV division in the past year.

MRC burst into the TV scene in 2008 with an aggressive launch of a half-dozen scripted series in its first year. It was a dealt a major blow when its Sunday programming block on the CW was pulled shortly after its fall 2008 launch because of poor ratings.

Of its first batch of series, only the animated "The Life and Times of Tim" on HBO and sitcom "Rita Rocks" on Lifetime earned renewals. ("Rita" was recently canceled after two seasons.)

But MRC was able to sell the shows internationally through a deal with ShineReveille International and did some creative dealmaking, getting second windows for canceled CW comedy "Surviving Suburbia" and ABC animated comedy "The Goode Family" on ABC and Comedy Central, respectively.

After all the activity in the first year, MRC was mostly in a quiet mode on the TV side during the past 12 months, fielding only a couple of high-profile new projects, Ricky Gervais' upcoming comedy series for HBO and the reality series "Shaq vs.," which aired on ABC last summer.

"While the ratio of development to production will continue to be low, we feel re-energized and are looking to put more shows on the air," Wiczyk said.

He expects to land network sales in the coming weeks. Among the project in the works internally at MRC TV is "House of Cards," a drama produced by David Fincher.

MRC built its TV model on attracting talent by giving them significant ownership in their shows. "We will continue to be an independent home for high-end talent," Wiczyk said.

He called Hipps a homegrown talent who is "young, aggressive and entrepreneurial."

Hipps came to MRC in 2008 after stints as director of development at Adelstein-Parouse Prods. and running Dawn Parouse's 20th TV-based production company.

Parouse subsequently joined MRC, serving as Samples' No. 2, and was rumored to replace him. She opted instead to leave and launch a production company with writer-producer Marti Noxon.