There have been plenty of comings and goings in the cable world this year, and it’s been a ton of fun reporting on them. From marathon runners to ukulele players to cable execs who dislike celery, there’s no shortage of special talents possessed by this elite group of professionals. As a year-end roundup, we decided to highlight a few of the most memorable we’ve come across throughout the year. Here’s Part 1—stay tuned for Part 2 next Friday. Happy reading!
Andrew Schechter, vp, programming and development for Food Network and Cooking Channel, tells usFood Network and Cooking Channel, he cannot cook at all. Nothing. He also tells us he was a referee during his tenure at the Puppy Bowl. That’s right, you can blame Andrew for those terrible calls on puppy fouls. More animal folklore: He once got into a box of 100 poisonous snakes for a show “Venom in Vegas” and lived to tell of the experience. And lastly—and perhaps most impressively—he met his wife at a karaoke bar.
Shawn Nicholson has been appointed vp of sales operations for INSP. In his expanded role, he’ll direct the commercial sales operational policies, initiatives, and agency marketing-related activities for INSP. Nicholson joined the company two years prior as director of sales operations. He says that he enjoys the following: white water rafting, king salmon fishing, skydiving in Vegas, cruise ships with friends and much more. He also tells us he went on his first international business trip to Moscow at 19 years of age, has crisscrossed the country in a blue fire truck to promote a conference and helped create an autobiography about a former prostitute-turned-preacher called Angel of the Flesh. One more thing: He once played the piano in front of a couple thousand people per Katy Perry’s parent’s request—and was kissed on the cheek by the pop star backstage at her concert.
WICT has hired Jim Cardillo as evp & CFO. In this capacity he’ll manage the association’s finance and technology functions. For the past 20 years, Cardillo has held leadership positions in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations with budgets up to $350 million. He started at Price Waterhouse as a senior accountant and also worked at Micros Systems, Maxim Healthcare, St. Mary’s Schools and, most recently, he was CFO for the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. Jim tells us he once got all the way to the on-air auditions for “Jeopardy,” though he didn’t make the cut. He also got on the audience for “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”—but didn’t make that one either. More fun stuff about Jim: He can cook a 5-course meal but he can’t sew a button. And his love for cooking is surpassed only by his love for his family (though the race is tight).
In other WICT news, Talton Gibson was upped to svp, marketing and communications. He’s charged with marketing, branding and PR for the organization. Gibson has more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment, political and nonprofit sectors as well as gender diversity advocacy. He joined WICT in 2010 as vp, communications. Here’s a fun fact for you: Talton used to work for the circus. He was the PR director for Barnum’s Kaleidoscape, Ringling Bros.’ upscale circus, and lived on the road with the show for 2 years. It eventually closed, but still lives on in the film “Ocean’s 11.”
Chris Cole was named svp, TV co-productions and sales, factual, for BBC Worldwide North America, effective November 4. He’s charged with developing strategic business growth for the company’s factual content in the U.S. Previously, he was a director of development for BBC One and BBC TWO and most recently he worked as part of BBC’s commissioning team to develop science and natural history projects. Chris tells us he once rediscovered a giant fruit bat—which was locally extinct—on the tiny Indian Ocean Island of Moheli. He has a passion for cooking—especially ice cream. His current favorite flavors are curried carrot, bacon and cinnamon, and margarita. And get this: He’s a fully qualified rope access technician. That means he can—and has—rigged high canopy tree platforms in some of the remotest parts of the Amazon.
Discovery Channel has named Denise Contis to the evp, production and development, Discovery Channel – West Coast position. Effective September 9, the post was held by Nancy Daniels, who was recently upped to gm after Amy Winter vacated the position. Winter remains at TLC as evp, brand marketing. Contis was svp, production and development for the network prior to the promotion. Before that she was svp, programming at A. Smith and Company and worked with clients including FOX, ABC, CBS and FX. She also launched her own agency, TUK Media, where she worked with NBC, CBS, A&E, E! and truTV. Additionally, she served as an executive consultant for Lifetime. Denise tells us she loves off-the-beaten-path adventures. “I once got lost on a camel in the desert in Egypt.” She also used to live on a coffee farm in Central America with a pet goat and chickens. She loves to read biographies, too, especially biographies concerning the Tudor Dynasty and reign of Henry VIII. And another fun fact about Denise: She knows how to play the piano. But, she can only play Elvis songs.
2C Media has hired Brian Eloe as its creative director. He was creative director at design and production company Impossible for eight years, where he worked with Velocity, GAC, Animal Planet, Sundance Channel and DISH Network. Prior to that he was an editor at Starz, where he created mini-movie trailers. Brian says he has a “nutty” pet-peeve. We’ll let him explain: “You know when people bring a dozen donuts on Friday? I really hate it when someone cuts one in half and leaves the other half in the box. JUST. TAKE. THE. WHOLE. THING.” I mean really! He is a “fanatical” hockey fan, too: “borderline face painter.” He’s also a big fan of creating random Top 5 lists and the movie The Big Lebowski, which he frequently quotes.
Andy Schuon will serve as Revolt TV’s president. Prior to joining the network he was president of artist services and head of digital for Ticketmaster. His is also co-founder of radio syndication company “C” Student Entertainment. Additionally, his Elevated Music Group creates custom music channels for hotel-casinos and restaurants. Schuon served as president and CEO of global pop-music network International Music Feed (IMF) and president of programming for Infinity Broadcasting, which became CBS Radio. Other former positions include CEO of Sony/Universal venture Pressplay (renamed Napster), president of multiplatform media company Farmclub.com, evp and gm of Warner Bros. Records and evp, programming and production for MTV.
Andy has a great story about his early days as a cable entrepreneur. When he was in high school, his house was located outside the city and not connected to cable. So he took matters into his own hands—literally. “My friends and I dug a trench 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide (per the cable guy) a half acre across our backyard to the nearest connection in the neighborhood.” Why? “We wanted our MTV!” Indeed. Ten years later he was the net’s head of programming. He also tells us he loves dreaming up new products, though he’s not always the first to bring them to market. “You can imagine how I felt when Taco Bell came up with the double-decker taco months after I thought of it.”
NBC Sports Group has tapped Ian Partilla as vp of partnership development for Alli Sports. His responsibilities include oversight of revenue growth for Alli Sports’ portfolio, including the Dew Tour, Red Bull Signature Series, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Octane Academy and World of Adventure Sports. He’ll also work with the NBC Sports Ventures sales team. Previously, Partilla was an account executive for X Games sales and marketing at ESPN. He also worked in sales at Mile High Sports magazine and the Colorado Rockies. Ian, we learned, is an expert skier, having traversed slopes in Peru, Switzerland, France, Canada and the US. Another lesser-known fact about Ian: One of his first jobs was serving as the Major League Baseball mascot for the Colorado Rockies. His character? An eight-foot-tall purple dinosaur named Dinger.
Casey’s responsibilities include overseeing series in current programming for the studio’s entertainment productions. She is the Executive in Charge for hits like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “The Legend of Korra” and “Kung Fu Panda: The Legends of Awesomeness.” She came to Nick in 2007 and supervised the final season of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” among other series. She has also worked as director of production for Warner Bros. Animation and creative executive for various series. Other positions include manager, development for VH1 Original Movies and several positions at 20th Century Fox Animation. Megan has a harrowing story from her youth: When she was 16 years old, a tire fell off her car while she was going 70 mph on the 101 highway. “Having your own tire pass you up in the fast lane is a weird feeling,” she says. But bad wheel karma didn’t stop there. When she was 17 years old, the steering wheel fell off. “Just as I was trying to park my car. It was trickier than usual.”
Be sure to check out Part 2 of our Comings & Goings 2013 Highlights next Friday!