Disney-Fox Deal Leaves Fox Television Group Executives In Limbo

Ever since 20th Century Fox TV heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman took over Fox Broadcasting Co. in summer 2014 to become chairmen and CEOs of Fox Television Group, FBC and 20th TV had been deepening their integration with a number of executives promoted to FTG posts to oversee areas for both corporate siblings. That worked fine until Disney recently made a $71.3 million deal to acquire key Fox assets, leaving the two parts of FTG on different sides of the new Disney-Fox divide — 20th TV will be moving to Disney while FBC will remain part of the new “Fox”.

The move leaves top FTG executives in no man’s land. The list includes FTG Chief Marketing officer Shannon Ryan, EVP Casting Sharon Klein, CFO Robert Barron and SVP Brand Management & New Media Strategy Michael Gooch.

Like the FTG leaders — Walden is heading to Disney for a high-level job while Newman is expected to stay at Fox for the time being, running the soon-to-be independent FBC — some of the remaining senior FTG executives are expected to go to Disney, others are expected to stay at Fox.

I hear the main — though not deciding — factor is which side of TVG each executive came from originally, which is where the executives’ contracts are. Klein, one of Walden’s closest associates for many years, was the long-time head of casting at 20th TV before adding FBC oversight in 2016. I hear she is expected to follow Walden to Disney. There Klein also would join her husband, fellow 20th TV veteran Howard Kurtzman, whose move to Disney was part of the executive announcement this morning.

Ryan, who got her start at FBC as head of communications before transitioning to FTG and marketing, appears to be headed to Fox but I hear that is not set in stone. Ryan is coming off a strong fall launch at FBC that she oversaw the marketing campaign for.

I hear Barron, previously a 20th TV veteran, would likely transition to a role at Disney; while Gooch, originally an FBC executive, would likely segue to a role at Fox.

Word is that no official conversations have been held. “Reassigning” FTG executives create a legal dilemma as the company they formally work for, FTG, no longer exists, giving them room to maneuver and try and forge their own paths.

Meanwhile, as we previously reported, Michael Thorn, a veteran 20th executive who moved to FBC just over a year ago as Entertainment President, is expected to continue to lead the network’s scripted programming efforts. FBC won three consecutive nights of premiere week in 18-49, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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