Warner TV's comedy chief leaving biz


Warner Bros. Television's head of comedy Marianne Cracchiolo Mago is leaving the entertainment business to return to her native Arizona and become president of the Steele Foundation, which has been run by her father, Daniel Cracchiolo.

Cracchiolo Mago, who has served as senior vp comedy development since 2004, will exit when her contract expires at the end of May.

It was her father who approached Cracchiolo Mago with the idea a few years ago, but she said leaving Hollywood and Warner Bros. wasn't an easy decision to make. She said what she will miss the most is the executive team at the studio led by president Peter Roth and executive vp development Leonard Goldstein.

"I'm leaving with a heavy heart knowing that I won't get to see them every day, but I know this is the right thing to do because it's such a huge opportunity for me," Cracchiolo Mago said. "It's a second career, a whole new start."

The move to Phoenix, planned for the fall, also will bring Cracchiolo Mago, her husband and their two daughters, ages 2 1/2 and four months, close to their families, which live in the area.

"Marianne has been an invaluable member of our development team for the past five years and will be greatly missed," Roth said. "We wish her all the best as she embarks on this new chapter in her life and focuses her talents on this exciting new endeavor."

For the past 22 years, attorney Daniel Cracchiolo has served as president and director of the Steele Foundation, a private foundation he founded in 1985 fulfilling the wish of his clients Horace and Ethel Steele, who left behind $40 million to be used for charitable causes.

Every year, the foundation, whose fund has grown to $100 million, gives away $5 million to support religious, educational, scientific and other community causes. Additionally, the foundation funds the Steele Children's Research Center, a medical research facility at the University of Arizona dedicated to the eradication and prevention of children's diseases.

With her father at 78, Cracchiolo Mago, who is a trustee at the foundation, felt it was time for her to observe how he runs things so she can take over. With her coming on board, her father will now become chairman.

"It's amazing to see what this money can do for the people, how appreciative they can be, and what we can do for the community," she said. "It's also great to be able to continue the tradition and keep (the foundation) a part of the family."

She expects to stay in touch with some of her Hollywood friends, especially on the fundraising side.

Cracchiolo Mago got her start in the entertainment business as a personal assistant to Jon Stewart when he was hosting MTV's "The Jon Stewart Show." She got her executive stripes at the TV division of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment before joining WBTV in 2002.

In November 2003, then a vp comedy at WBTV, she was featured on The Hollywood Reporter's Next Generation list. Asked where she would like to be in 10 years, she said, "Hopefully having a family of my own and still lucky enough to be a part of this incredible business."

Four years later, she is departing the business -- but leaving the door open to a possible third chapter in her Hollywood career. "You can never say never," she said.