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New Entertainment President at the WB

June 16, 2004|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

The WB Network on Tuesday completed an overhaul of its senior management team in a bid to reverse low ratings, naming independent producer David Janollari as its new entertainment president.

Janollari, perhaps best known for the HBO drama "Six Feet Under," will report to WB Chairman Garth Ancier and oversee prime-time programming, including such dramas as "Everwood," as well as the Kids WB stable of children's shows.

As a result, Janollari will leave his job running the Greenblatt Janollari Studio, which also produces UPN's "Eve" and "One on One." The studio also produces PBS' "American Family."

The management move came one day after longtime WB executive Jordan Levin resigned as chief executive after refusing to accept a demotion. Levin's relationship with his bosses at Warner Bros. Entertainment had grown fractious.

The WB -- jointly owned by the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner Inc. and Tribune Co., owner of The Times -- has been beset by ratings difficulties in the last season, especially in its core young-adult audience.

Janollari is a known commodity on Warner Bros.' Burbank lot. Earlier in his career, he served as a comedy executive for the studio, working on such hits as "Friends" and "The Drew Carey Show." Running a network is "the one job in this business that I have never held," Janollari said in an interview. "I want to find the next big hit."

Janollari's hiring underscores the difficulties independent producers face in an entertainment world dominated by a small pool of corporate players, including Time Warner, Viacom Inc. and News Corp. Producers are having a tough time selling shows to networks that increasingly rely on programming from sister studios.

The largest remaining independent studio, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, producer of such hits as "The Cosby Show" and "That '70s Show," is reportedly considering selling its assets.

Janollari said the fate of Greenblatt Janollari Studio was still undecided, although he and ex-partner Bob Greenblatt were expected to remain executive producers on "Six Feet Under" and the other shows the studio currently makes. Greenblatt is now entertainment president at premium cable network Showtime.

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