Thursday, January 22, 2009 — Burbank, CA . . . Responding to the changing realities of the entertainment landscape, and addressing an opportunity to streamline the creative process, ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios will be operated as a coordinated business unit entitled ABC Entertainment Group, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney-Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group. This newly formed unit will be managed by President Stephen McPherson, who had previously served as president, ABC Entertainment. Mark Pedowitz, former president, ABC Studios, has moved into a new role as senior advisor to the Office of the Co-Chairman, where he will work alongside Ms. Sweeney on a myriad of evolving business, labor relations and emerging media issues.
In commenting on the announcement, Ms. Sweeney stated: “The landscape of our business and an opportunity to coalesce the creative process dictated this change in structure. By operating these units in a coordinated fashion, we’ll be able to present the industry with a unified, cohesive creative vision for ABC programming, which will serve us well as we move forward.” She continued, “Thanks to the quality of leadership and professional excellence exhibited by both Steve and Mark, we are able to implement this change and ensure that a smooth integration occurs. Mark’s years of experience on both the business and creative sides of the equation make him the perfect person to have in a key advisory position, especially with the multitude and complexity of the issues facing our industry today. And there is no one more passionate about the creative process, with as much proven business acumen, as Steve. This combination is why I’m so excited about this new management structure, and what it means for the future of the Disney/ABC Television Group.”
The newly formed ABC Entertainment Group will combine ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment, with all operations of the two separate units reporting to Mr. McPherson. The new division’s primary mandate will be to develop and produce compelling programming for broadcast on ABC. However, when appropriate, the studio will look for outside opportunities. The successful partnership between ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment prior to this announcement has delivered some of the most successful, talked-about and evolutionary series on television today, including “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ugly Betty” and “Brothers & Sisters.” Mr. McPherson will spend the next few months integrating the units, with input from Mr. Pedowitz.
Mr. McPherson, who had previously served as president of the studio when it was named Touchstone Television and developed “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” prior to assuming oversight of the network, commented: “I’m thrilled and honored that Anne has entrusted me once again with the Studio, and I’m looking forward to discovering ways in which the studio-network relationship, which has been pretty impressive to date, can be even more potent and successful going forward.”
Mr. Pedowitz, whose four-plus year oversight of ABC Studios resulted in some of the most successful and prolific creative development in its history, added: “I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve at ABC Studios over the past few years – from venturing into first-run syndication with ‘Legend of the Seeker’ to producing for cable with the hits ‘Kyle XY’ and ‘Army Wives’ to developing some of the new hits on ABC. I look forward to advising Anne on the major issues and challenges facing us as a company.”
Mark Pedowitz Biography:
Mr. Pedowitz joined ABC in August 1991 as senior vice president, Business Affairs and Contracts, where he negotiated deals to acquire programming for Primetime, Daytime, Late-Night and the Saturday Morning Children’s block. He was promoted to head of the department in 1996. Then in 1999 he was promoted to executive vice president, ABC Entertainment Television Group, wherein he oversaw all business, legal and financial affairs for ABC Primetime and Touchstone Television, as well as business/legal affairs for ABC Daytime. Mr. Pedowitz was named president, ABC Studios, in April 2004 (then Touchstone Television), where he was responsible for the creative and business operations of the studio.
As a key content driver for the Disney ABC Television Group, multiple seasons of the studio’s programming have fed the company’s distribution pipelines worldwide with productions and related product lines from hit primetime series including “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ugly Betty,” “Scrubs,” “Army Wives” and “Criminal Minds.”
Mr. Pedowitz has expanded the studio’s cable and first-run syndication production, including Lifetime’s highest rated series, “Army Wives,” ABC Family’s “Kyle XY” and the Steven Bochco drama “Raising the Bar” on TNT. Marking the studio’s first original series produced for first-run syndication is the drama “Legend of the Seeker,” from Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, and based on the bestselling novels by Terry Goodkind. In addition to its scripted programming, the studio also produces ABC’s late-night talk show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Prior to joining ABC, Mr. Pedowitz was senior vice president, Business Affairs and Administration, MGM/UA Television Production Group, a position he had held since 1987. He began his career in the entertainment industry in 1979 as an attorney at MCA, Inc., and from 1980-85 was vice president, Business Affairs, Reeves Entertainment Group/Alan Landsburg Productions. From 1985-87 Mr. Pedowitz was vice president, Business Affairs and general counsel, The Landsburg Company.
Stephen McPherson Biography:
As president of ABC Entertainment since April 2004, Stephen McPherson has been the driving force behind the network’s primetime comeback, with a strategy focused on quality content and a willingness to rebuild and redirect key units, including drama, alternative, development and marketing to support and deliver that content.
Prior to joining ABC, he was president of Touchstone Television. During his tenure at Touchstone, Mr. McPherson developed several other successful series for the network, including “Alias,” “8 Simple Rules,” “According to Jim,” “My Wife and Kids,” “Hope & Faith,” “Less than Perfect,” “Once and Again” and “The Job.” He and his team also developed the successful “CSI” drama franchise and the award-winning alternative series “Amazing Race” for CBS, as well as the critically acclaimed comedy, “Scrubs,” and “Monk,” which became a hit for the USA network. He originally joined Touchstone as an executive vice president of the studio.
Prior to joining Touchstone Television, Mr. McPherson was vice president, Primetime Series at NBC, where he oversaw the development and production of such shows as “NewsRadio” and “Just Shoot Me.” Before joining NBC, he was senior vice president, Creative Affairs of ABC Productions, where he supervised both comedy and drama series, including “My So Called Life” and “The Commish.” He also served as director, Current Programming for FOX, where he helped launch “Martin” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” He began his industry career as director of Development for Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions.
Mr. McPherson has been recognized for his achievements and honored with several awards, including the Directors Guild of America’s 2005 Diversity Award, honoring his outstanding commitment to and leadership in the hiring of women and minorities in DGA categories. This is only the fourth time that the Award has been bestowed. He also received the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Committee on Diversity’s first Televisionary Award in recognition of his commitment to diversity both on-screen and behind the scenes. He received the Executive of the Year Award from the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors for his contribution to the industry. He was also named the 2006 Television Showman of the Year at the International Cinematographers Guild 43rd Annual Publicists Awards in March, in recognition of his outstanding stewardship of the network in 2005.
Mr. McPherson’s efforts extend beyond the television industry. In addition to being honored by the Los Angeles Free Clinic at its Annual Dinner Gala in 2005, he is also an active member of its board.
The Disney/ABC Television Group is home to all of The Walt Disney Company’s worldwide entertainment and news television properties. The Group includes the ABC Television Network, Disney Channel’s worldwide portfolio of kids’ channels, ABC Family and SOAPnet; as well as television production and syndication divisions ABC Studios, Walt Disney Television Animation, Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Disney-ABC International Television. Disney-ABC Television Group also manages the Radio Disney Network and Hyperion in addition to the Company’s equity interest in Lifetime Entertainment Services and A&E Television Networks.