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Ancier, Levin Named WB Chairman, CEO

Network founder, who will retire next year, taps trusted lieutenants as firm expects first profit.

September 30, 2003|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

The WB said Monday that Garth Ancier, former entertainment president at NBC and Fox Broadcasting, will become chairman of the network, and programming chief Jordan Levin will become chief executive.

A succession plan has been in the works since the WB's founder and chairman, Jamie Kellner, announced this year that he would retire by June 2004. In tapping Ancier and Levin, Kellner is essentially handing over the keys to two trusted lieutenants.

"It's going to be a wake-free transition," Levin said. "There's really a kitchen cabinet, and we've all been working very closely."

The WB, owned by AOL Time Warner Inc. and Tribune Co., has focused on building an audience of viewers ages 12 to 34 with shows such as "7th Heaven," "Smallville," "Reba" and "Everwood."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 01, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 2 inches; 65 words Type of Material: Correction
WB network -- An article in Tuesday's Business section about promotions at the WB network incorrectly stated that Garth Ancier would become Jordan Levin's boss. Both Ancier and Levin will report directly to Barry Meyer, Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive. In addition, the article incorrectly stated that this would be the first profitable year for the WB. The network turned a profit in 2002.

This is the first year the WB will turn a profit. The network is on track to make about $8 million.

Tribune, which owns 22% of the WB, also publishes the Los Angeles Times.

Ancier, 46, was named co-chairman along with his longtime boss, Kellner. He will become chairman when Kellner, 56, retires in May, at the end of the current TV season.

Levin will serve as co-chief executive with Kellner, taking over the position when Kellner steps down.

Ancier had been working informally at the Burbank-based network for several months. Most recently, he was executive vice president of programming for Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, working with Kellner.

Kellner left Atlanta in February after two turbulent years overseeing CNN, a period that saw the cable news operation lose its dominance as its ratings were eclipsed by rival Fox News Channel.

Kellner and Ancier helped launch the Fox broadcast network in 1986, and they teamed up again to roll out the WB in January 1995. Ancier served as NBC's programming chief from 1999 to 2001.

Levin, 36, got his first job in television from his new boss. Ancier hired Levin as an associate at Walt Disney Co.'s Touchstone Television after Levin graduated from the University of Texas in 1989.

Levin joined the WB in mid-1994, again working for Ancier. Levin has been entertainment president since 2001.

Jed Petrick will continue as WB president, now reporting to Levin.

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