Matthew Duda Gary Garfinkel Kent Sevener
Matthew Duda has retired from his position of EVP, Program Acquisitions, Planning and Distribution at Showtime after 31 years at the network. " Matthew has been one of the leading voices in our programming group," said Matt Blank, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Showtime Networks in a statement. "His contributions have been immeasurable, and he will be missed both personally and professionally by all those who have worked with him at Showtime." Duda is looking forward to the next chapter in his life, after being the network’s lead negotiator for myriad first run, indie and studio films. He also was integral to the launch of Sundance Channel in 1996. His replacements are Gary Garfinkel and Kent Sevener, who’ve been promoted to co-head the network’s acquisitions department. They are in charge of negotiation and acquisition of features, docs, stand-up comedy and specials for Showtime nets, in addition to arrangements with studios.
Garfinkel, now SVP, Content Acquisitions, was previously SVP, Film Acquisitions. In his free time, he watches movies and TV, reads and travels…”and I make the world’s best faux-tatoes, using cauliflower.” He’ll be based in the LA office and report to David Nevins, President of Entertainment. Sevener, now SVP, Content Acquisitions and Business & Legal Affairs, will report to both Nevins and Gwen Marcus, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, regarding his legal functions. Sevener’s hobbies are tennis, golf and skiing. Interestingly, he and his wife, both life-long Republicans, met each other at Bill Clinton’s 50th birthday party.
Discovery Communications has tapped Suzanne McDonnell as SVP, Sales Strategy & Client Solutions. She will develop digital ad strategies and sponsorship opportunities across the company’s digital properties, including Discovery.com, TLC.com AnimalPlanet.com, HowStuffWorks.com and Petfinder.com. McDonnell come from Viacom Media Nets, where as SVP, Digital Fusion, she built cross-platform digital programs for advertisers. She’ll be based in NY and report to JB Perrette, Chief Digital Officer.
Across the pond, Discovery Channel has appointed Andrew Jackson EVP, Production and Development, Landmark Series and Specials. Jackson has worked with the channel on projects for more than 20 years, for properties such as Animal Planet, Science Channel and Discovery. Prior to the appointment he was head of BBC’s Natural History Unit, which produced the “Planet Earth” and “Life” series. There he led production of more than 40 series, including the UK launch of the BBC/Discovery Channel co-production “Frozen Planet.” While based in the UK, Johnson will head up programming strategies for specials and events. He’ll report to Eileen O’Neill, Group President, Discovery and TLC Networks. According to his kids, he likes cycling. A lot. Particularly up mountains. They say he is happiest when biking in the French mountains. They also say he once nearly got Julia Roberts strangled by an orangutan. On the latter mishap, Jackson admits guilt: “I did unfortunately get Julia Roberts a little too close for comfort to a very large male orangutan called Kosassi.” But add to his likes well-produced trashy TV, Rome, Italy, and short quotes that encapsulate big ideas, like, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”