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TV Executive and Wife Die in Murder-Suicide

April 11, 1988|EDWARD J. BOYER and PENELOPE McMILLAN | Times Staff Writers

An executive with Los Angeles' small but popular Z Channel pay television service fatally wounded his wife before turning a handgun on himself in an apparent murder-suicide in their Westwood home, authorities said Sunday.

The bodies of Gerald Harvey, vice president of programming at the Z Channel, and his wife, Frederica Rudulth, both 39, were found in their home in the 200 block of South Thurston Avenue shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday.

"Harvey is listed as a suicide, and his wife is listed as a homicide victim," a coroner's spokesman said.

No Motive Seen

Los Angeles police said Harvey suffered from a "mental disorder," and investigators have determined no motive for the killings.

The Z Channel, a 14-year-old Santa Monica-based company, merged earlier this year with American Spectacor--a combination of American Cablesystems and Philadelphia-based Spectacor, which owns pay TV services and the Flyers pro hockey team.

Harvey was credited with developing the Z Channel's popular mix of classic films, current hits and foreign films. But in an effort to make the service profitable, the Z Channel this month abandoned its all-movie format and began telecasting Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels home games.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 12, 1988 Home Edition Part 1 Page 2 Column 6 Metro Desk 1 inches; 14 words Type of Material: Correction
In an article in Monday's editions, the name of a murder victim, Frederica Rudulph, was misspelled.

Joseph M. Cohen, brought in by Spectacor to spearhead Z Channel's baseball venture, said Harvey did not work last week, saying he was suffering from the flu and a perforated ulcer.

"I talked to him Friday," Cohen said. "I thought he was getting better . . . Jerry was a very talented person. It's a tragic loss."

Popular Neighbor

Rudulth, known as "Deri" to her friends, married Harvey about a year ago, said next door neighbor Mary Pringle. A former attorney who was publisher of a community newspaper called the Westwood Insider, Rudulth had lived at the Thurston Street address for 16 years, Pringle said.

The neighbor said she was pruning roses about 4 p.m. Saturday when she heard what appeared to be a shot, but she disregarded the noise as possibly children playing. She said she heard another shot about an hour later.

"She (Rudulth) was an exemplary neighbor for me," Pringle said. "I didn't really know him (Harvey). He seemed to be an odd person. He'd apparently been having nervous problems, and she was vulnerable and was there."

The shootings, Pringle said, "saddened our entire street, because anybody who touched base with Deri liked her. . . ."

Harvey was the "main driving force" behind a lawsuit the Z Channel filed in Los Angeles federal court last month against Time Inc.'s Home Box Office, the nation's largest pay television service, and four major Hollywood studios, said an attorney involved in the case.

Basis of Lawsuit

The suit contends that HBO "has secured or coerced" the cooperation of MGM/UA Telecommunications, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Warner Bros. in "restraining and impairing" Z Channel's ability to compete with HBO.

Harvey was to give a deposition in the suit today to Paramount lawyers, said the attorney, who asked that he not be identified.

The dispute arose over the Z Channel's plan to sell advertising spots on its sports broadcasts and to transmit its signal via satellite.

HBO allegedly notified or reminded the studios that such changes could not be permitted under their agreements with the Z Channel.

Without satellite transmission and some paid advertising, the suit said, Z Channel would "likely be eliminated as a competitor."

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real refused to issue an order that would have allowed the Z Channel to sell advertising.

Times staff writers Larry Stewart and Nieson Himmel contributed to this article.

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