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OWN channel hires exec

The Oprah Winfrey venture, to launch in '09, names a president.

June 18, 2008|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

Oprah Winfrey's new venture, a cable channel scheduled to launch next year, on Tuesday announced its first major hire: veteran television executive Robin Schwartz.

Schwartz has been named president of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, and will oversee programming, development, marketing and research. She will be tasked with carrying out Winfrey's vision for the channel and report to a yet-to-be-named chief executive. Winfrey will be chairman and chief creative officer.

OWN will be jointly owned by Winfrey's Harpo Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc. It is scheduled to replace the Discovery Health channel in 70 million households during the second half of 2009.

Schwartz, in an interview, said OWN would reflect Winfrey's optimistic and empowerment philosophy that is the hallmark of her TV show and eponymous magazine. "It won't be mean-spirited," she said. "It's all about the positive, about intelligence, kindness and learning, and building a connection with the audience."

Schwartz, 42, will assume her duties July 14 after leaving Regency Television. She has managed the boutique studio for four years, overseeing the production of such shows as Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle," "New Amsterdam" and "The Return of Jezebel James."

Previously, Schwartz was head of programming at ABC Family. She began her career at NBC, and was in charge of children's programming before working in prime time.

"Our first order of business is to get this cable channel built, to build it out and get it launched within the next two years," said David Zaslav, chief executive of Discovery Communications. "We think that Robin has the creative vision and the marketing sense. . . . It's all about living your best life and we felt that Robin was on that journey herself."

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meg.james@latimes.com

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