the vine


Root out front for gig at HBO

Let the guessing game begin. Hours after Carolyn Strauss stepped down as HBO Entertainment president, the industry started churning out names of potential candidates for the job. Sources said British TV executive Jane Root has emerged as an early contender for the position. Root left her post as GM of Discovery Channel and the Science Channel in November when she said she was planning to "return to the United Kingdom to pursue other opportunities in the media industry." While the prospect of a Hollywood outsider like Root overseeing series development for HBO might seem unorthodox, she already has been involved in the greenlighting of an HBO series. During her highly successful run as controller of BBC 2, she, along with BBC's content head Jana Bennett, teamed with HBO to produce "Rome." Still, insiders cautioned that HBO is very early in the executive search process and that the pay cable network is planning to meet with a number of candidates before making a final decision. It is understood that Strauss' resignation may have caught HBO by surprise as the network had been looking to hire a No. 2 development executive to work under Strauss for the past few months. (Nellie Andreeva)

New road, dead end

In another sign of the cloudy future for "October Road" and "Men in Trees" at ABC, the network explored a new home for the two bubble series on sister cable channel Lifetime. Lifetime execs were given tapes of the dramas but ruled out picking them up, sources said. The two series have limped in the Nielsen ratings this season. The past two episodes of "Road" aired back-to-back March 10 to a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49. "Trees," starring Anne Heche, still is running fresh episodes, with its most recent March 12 outing scoring a 1.7. Despite a save-the-show campaign launched by "Road" fans, the fate of the offbeat drama seems pretty much sealed at ABC. Meanwhile, "Trees" has a shot at coming back as it's said to enjoy solid support at the network. (Nellie Andreeva and James Hibberd)