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Disney Taps Lloyd Braun to Head Up Network TV

March 03, 1998|SALLIE HOFMEISTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lloyd Braun has been named chairman of network television for Walt Disney Co., reporting to the head of the studio, Joe Roth.

Braun, 39, has been president of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment since 1994, where he helped drive the talent management company more deeply into television production. Previously, he was a partner at the law firm of Silverberg, Katz, Thompson & Braun, where he represented actors, directors and writers.

Braun will fill only part of the post vacated last year by Dean Valentine, who became chairman of UPN. Valentine's responsibilities for the TV animation, Wonderful World of Disney and the lucrative direct-to-video groups were assumed by Charles Hirschhorn.

David Neuman, president of Walt Disney Network TV and Touchstone TV, will now report to Braun, who presides over a new umbrella group called Buena Vista Television Productions, which encompasses the two units.

Disney's prime-time group has floundered lately despite its parent company's purchase of the ABC television network. While Disney has successfully overhauled ABC's Saturday morning slate, and brought back the Sunday night movie, it hasn't been able to turn around a ratings slump. In fact, the group has not had a mega-hit since "Home Improvement."

Disney has also had difficulty bridging the cultural gap between its television studio and ABC Entertainment, which schedules the network. Disney management has tried to encourage a stronger relationship by signing on writers recommended by ABC executives. Braun's mandate is to continue that process, while developing programs for other networks as well.

Braun was instrumental in building Brillstein-Grey's TV business and in structuring a production joint venture with ABC before the Disney purchase that is close to being unwound, as well as a replacement deal with Universal Studios. While Brillstein-Grey has a slate of TV shows on the air, the company has generated no clear winners, with NBC's "Just Shoot Me" recently emerging as a prospective money-maker after failed attempts including "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" and "The Dana Carvey Show," and struggling comedies like 'The Naked Truth" and "News Radio."

Brillstein-Grey also produces "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher" for ABC, and is embroiled in a lawsuit with former client Garry Shandling over the handling of HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show."

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