New FtvS chief axes three division heads


Three weeks after taking the reins of Fox Television Studios, new president Emiliano Calemzuk has made his first major restructuring move, letting go of three department heads.

The trio who have left the company are Holly Jacobs, executive vp alternative development; Regina DiMartino, executive vp global marketing; and Chris Ottinger, executive vp FtvS International and Fox World.

Meanwhile, executive vp scripted programming David Madden is said to be in preliminary talks for a new contract to continue as head of his department.

"The company is grateful for all the time and efforts (Jacobs, DiMartino and Ottinger) invested in helping make this group the great and diverse pool of people we are today," Calemzuk wrote in an internal memo Thursday. "I do not intend to replace these executives with people coming from outside FtvS immediately, nor will that be the case across all the departments. I believe we have the depth in talent and skill to continue carrying on with our work through the great teams we currently have in place. I hope this stays true for a long time."

For Jacobs, the news came on the day the CW said at its upfront presentation that FtvS' reality series "Crowned" had been picked up for midseason and Fox announced at its presentation the return for a second season of "Talk Show With Spike Feresten," both developed and produced by Jacobs' department.

In the memo, Calemzuk also alluded to a potential shake-up in the structure of FtvS.

"I will be leading the marketing, unscripted and international groups for the time being, assisted by the teams already in place, until a final structure (which may or may not resemble the current one) is created," he wrote.

FtvS is an unusual mix of five diverse divisions: alternative, scripted, international, Fox World and Regency TV, a co-venture with New Regency. Rumors have been circulating for months about refocusing the company's business by trimming some of its divisions or folding them into other News Corp. production entities, including 20th Century Fox TV.

Speculation intensified late last month, when Fox international executive Calemzuk was brought in as the new FtvS president, succeeding Angela Shapiro-Mathes, who left to run Discovery Communications' TLC (HR 4/30). At the time, the choice of Calemzuk, who has no Hollywood experience, was seen by some as a possible indicator of a change in direction at FtvS away from scripted programming and focusing mainly on developing unscripted formats that would then be sold around the world.

It is now understood that Calemzuk has been impressed by FtvS' roster of scripted programming, including FX's "The Shield" and "The Riches" as well as the upcoming "Saving Grace" at TNT and "Burn Notice" at USA, and might make scripted programming one of the main focuses of the company going forward.

(Additionally, Regency TV just landed two new series on Fox for next season: the drama "New Amsterdam" and the comedy "The Return of Jezebel James.")

The future of FtvS' alternative department is uncertain.

For the time being, the department's slate of current series and projects in development likely will be shepherded by vps Cathy Veisel and Andrew Simonian, director Rachel Loren and manager Jennifer Freeman.

On the international side, Ottinger had been brought in by Shapiro-Mathes to mainly spearhead the launch of local production facilities in the U.K., India and France. Run by FtvS International, those producing outfits were to create original shows for the local markets, with the formats later sold to other territories. The future of those local production companies are now in serious doubt. (As head of Fox World, Ottinger also oversaw the production abroad of Fox reality formats like Fox 21's "Beauty and the Geek.")

There is one area that Calemzuk already has put the brakes on, at least for now. FtvS will no longer work on developing original content for the Internet, focusing its online efforts entirely on creating marketing support for the company's TV properties.