The talent drain continued at Rainbow Media Holdings LLC last week, with 22-year veteran Kathleen Dore — head of the company’s national movie-based networks — exiting for a big job as chief of TV operations for a Canadian media conglomerate.
Dore, formerly president of Rainbow’s Entertainment Services, was named president of Television & Radio at CanWest MediaWorks. In her new role, effective Oct. 18, Dore will relocate to Toronto and be responsible for all of CanWest’s Canadian broadcast television operations, cable channels and radio stations.
“Certainly the scope of the responsibility, and the breadth of assets that I will oversee, was really the most important to me,” Dore said. “The fact that the company is also very large in terms of the print media, and very forward-thinking in terms of their interactive platforms, was really intriguing. So their focus on innovation and growth as a company, along with the scope of my responsibilities, were really what drew me to the job.”
Rainbow declined to comment on who will replace, or fill in for, Dore. But Rainbow CEO Joshua Sapan issued a statement lauding her contributions.
Dore’s departure will further whittle down the very-top echelon of Rainbow’s management team during a crucial period. Parent Cablevision Systems Corp. is about to spin off Rainbow DBS, its Voom-branded HDTV satellite service, along with Rainbow Media Holdings as a standalone operation to be called Rainbow Media Enterprises, although that spin-off has been delayed several times now. Thomas Dolan will become CEO of RME.
In addition to Dore, in recent months Rainbow has lost other top programming talent at its nationally distributed services. Marc Juris, president of up-and-coming music network Fuse, went to Court TV. And Matt Strauss and Mike Nolan, general manager and head of strategic planning, respectively, for on-demand service Mag Rack, also left. Strauss joined Comcast Corp.
14 LEFT AT ONCE
Rainbow’s executive ranks had already been diminished before that group left, because the company hadn’t replaced several network chiefs who were let go roughly 16 months ago over alleged accounting discrepancies.
The so-called “Jericho 14” that were dismissed included Kate McEnroe, chief of AMC Networks; Noreen O’Loughlin, AMC’s general manager; and Martin von Ruden, general manager of WE: Women’s Entertainment.
After that trio exited, responsibility for AMC and WE went to Dore, who had been president of Independent Film Channel, but was promoted to Entertainment Services president along with the added duties.
But Rainbow is beginning to fill some of the vacancies.
Kim Martin, executive vice president of distribution sales and marketing for AMC and WE, is being promoted to general manager of WE, numerous sources said last week, although Rainbow declined to comment.
Rainbow has also filled Strauss’s Mag Rack post by shifting Dan Ronayne, who had been senior vice president of marketing for Voom HD Originals. And this week, Rainbow is expected to announce the promotions of Greg Moyer and Nora Ryan to co-general managers of Voom HD Originals.
Moyer, a Discovery Communications Inc. veteran, most recently was Rainbow’s president of regional programming, managing the MetroChannels and News 12 Networks.
Ryan, ex-president of Sundance Channel, had been Rainbow’s senior vice president of business development.
Rainbow has also recruited two outsiders. Longtime Showtime Networks Inc. veteran Glenn Oakley, most recently senior vice president of corporate strategy and international, is joining Rainbow as senior vice president of new business development, while ad veteran Bob Battles is being named senior vice president of creative services.
In a statement, Sapan lauded Oakley and Battles as “seasoned executives” of “tremendous value” to Rainbow, and called Moyer’s and Ryan’s track records “unparalleled.”
Nonetheless, so far key Rainbow posts like a general manager for AMC and Fuse — and now Dore’s slot — remain open. And many of the formerly vacant positions were filled by shuffling existing personnel. Some sources said that’s because Rainbow has had trouble recruiting outside the company for its top posts because of the uncertainty at the company, because of an ongoing probe.
Cablevision said last year it had uncovered improper expense accruals at AMC and WE. Later that year, the MSO said additional accounting irregularities were discovered by an independent investigator, the law firm Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, at other Rainbow and non-Rainbow units. As a result of the Wilmer Cutler investigation, Cablevision reduced operating-income figures for 2001 and 2002.
The Wilmer, Cutler probe was completed in March — with no new problems discovered — but investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office continue.
Morale is described as low at Rainbow, according to some sources, and they said the exit of well-liked and well-respected Dore won’t help matters.
IN STORE FOR DORE
During her tenure, Dore was responsible for the development and launch of IFC and IFC Entertainment, which distributed two of the top-grossing independent film releases of all time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Fahrenheit 9/11. In addition, Dore played a large part in the growth of Bravo, which was sold to NBC in 2003.
At CanWest, Dore’s responsibilities will include the Global Television Network, one of two private TV networks in Canada, 15 TV stations, eight cable networks and two radio stations. Her appointment is part of a major realignment of the Canadian operations of CanWest Global Communications Corp.
The CanWest cable networks include Prime TV, a general-entertainment service; Mystery; Men TV; Lonestar, which offers Westerns; and DejaView, which Dore compared to TV Land.
CanWest is “very interested in expanding their networks in Canada and in perhaps taking those networks elsewhere,” Dore said, with the U.S. a possibility for that expansion.
Dore said her departure had nothing to do with the current woes plaguing Rainbow and Cablevision.
“It’s pretty clear that this is one of those opportunities, a challenge, I really wanted to take on and just an opportunity I couldn’t say no to,” she said, adding that there’s “a great team” at Rainbow that can continue her work.
CARROLL ON RISE?
There’s been speculation Dore’s lieutenant, IFC general manager Ed Carroll, will be either getting a promotion or duties that would include AMC.
Cablevision recently said that it was once again postponing the spin-off of RME, which will include AMC, IFC, WE, Voom and Mag Rack.
Many Wall Street analysts are not only bearish on Voom’s prospects, but also don’t favor the Rainbow national networks being split off from Cablevision.
“The best scenario at Cablevision would be to shut down Voom and not spin off Rainbow, because those Rainbow networks will be more powerful within Cablevision than standalone. I don’t understand what they’re doing with RME,” Fulcrum Global Partners analyst Richard Greenfield said.
“Being vertically integrated with a cable company — when other content creators need access to Cablevision’s distribution footprint — lends support and power to AMC, WE and IFC,” Greenfield said. “Everybody needs to have their cable networks distributed in the [New York City] tri-state area.”
Steve Donohue, R. Thomas Umstead and Mike Farrell contributed to this report.