Changes at the Top for Oprah Net, Lifetime


The nascent Oprah Winfrey Network and women-targeted stalwart Lifetime Networks both announced changes at the top last week — one anointing a new president, while the latter disclosed a top executive's departure.

Winfrey and Discovery Communications tapped Regency Television executive Robin Schwartz as president of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Meanwhile, officials at Lifetime announced that the network's president of entertainment Susanne Daniels had tendered her resignation.

Beginning July 14, Schwartz will have oversight for all of OWN's key functions, notably development, programming, production, marketing, research and communications. She also will work in partnership with advertising sales and distribution to generate revenue and broaden the value of the OWN brand.

The network, set to launch in the second half of 2009, will supplant the current Discovery Health Network in some 70 million homes. Schwartz will report to OWN's yet-to-be-named CEO. The network's staff and operations will be based in Los Angeles.

At Regency Television, a joint venture of New Regency Films and News Corp., since 2004, Schwartz served as a studio head, overseeing production of series such as Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show. Prior to joining Regency, she was vice president of programming for ABC Family.

“I look forward to working with Robin to build a network that will celebrate the best in people,” OWN chairman Oprah Winfrey said in a statement.

Added Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav: “Robin has tremendous tools to make OWN a trusted source of information and the definitive voice for living your best life.”

Separately, Daniels is leaving Lifetime after a three-year run with the programmer.

Daniels, who couldn't be reached for comment, has agreed to stay in her position until she identifies a successor and will remain with Lifetime in a consulting role, the company said in a press release. She is leaving to spend more time with her family.

Daniels, who joined Lifetime in August 2005, has been responsible for all programming on Lifetime Television and Lifetime Movie Network, the two highest-rated women's networks, and Lifetime Real Women. A year ago, she brought Lifetime's biggest hit show ever to the network, Army Wives.

On Daniels' watch, Lifetime lured Project Runway away from Bravo — a matter that is in litigation.

Lifetime Networks president and CEO Andrea Wong in a prepared statement praised Daniels as “one of the most outstanding executives with whom I have ever worked.”