Wonder Women 2005

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Seven is a lucky number. Just ask anybody who visits Las Vegas, Atlantic City or watches Tilt.

It’s fortunate for the staff of Multichannel News, too, as we complete our seventh annual Wonder Women issue, one that continues the tradition of commemorating the achievements of a group whose work impacts the cable, entertainment and media landscapes.

This year, we kindly suggest that 15, 16 and 14 are numbers to consider as well. The MCN staff, after receiving many external submissions and then proposing candidates relative to their beats, was asked to vet the contenders over a series of meetings and discussions this fall. After winnowing the list, MCN this year has named 15 Wonder Women, 16 Women to Watch and 14 on-air personalities whose talent shines through on the small screen.

Three Wonder Women work for MSOs. Nomi Bergman is helping to supply the technological expertise and strategic direction as Advanced Newhouse rolls out a bevy of advanced products. Comcast Corp.’s Suzanne Keenan is charged with maintaining compliance for consumer-quality standards. Harriet Novet oversees government and public affairs, media relations and philanthropic efforts for Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey, the country’s largest system.

Public affairs, particularly those involving women’s advocacy issues, is the bailiwick of Lifetime Television’s Meredith Wagner, while Pandit Wright’s human resources department has helped Discovery Communications Inc. become one of the top places for women to work.

Sitting on the opposite side is Michelle James, the executive recruiter who has filled many top-level posts throughout the industry.

Executive leadership is in no short supply here, as we celebrate four who have day-to-day operational responsibilities for their networks: Deborah Blackwell is building SoapNet’s programming lineup and subscriber base; Lisa Hall helped drive independent Oxygen Media into the black for the first time in 2004; Susan Swain has introduced new shows and is pushing C-SPAN into new technologies; and Lauren Zalaznick, having revamped Trio, is now revitalizing Bravo.

In the media investment realm, The Blackstone Group’s Jill Greenthal has long been a player as the architect of some of the industry’s biggest deals.

Linda Yaccarino, already preparing for the 2005-06 upfront, was quite busy in 2004, forging a series of integrated deals for TBS and TNT. Initiative’s Stacey Lynn Koerner, meanwhile, continues to evaluate programming and gauge audience reaction within a one TV world.

Koerner’s work puts her in the position of assessing some of the shows created by Comedy Central’s head of development Lauren Corrao, who these days is also charged with eyeing a stand-up comedy network extension.

Underlining the scope of her influence, DirecTV Inc.’s programming guru Stephanie Campbell is the first Wonder Women to hail from satellite.

The disciplines supervised by our 16 Women to Watch also extend across the cable arena. Three of our MSO honorees oversee various technical and marketing aspects of advanced services, while another heads programming. As for networks, we honor women responsible for distribution, legal affairs, programming and development, and new distribution vehicles. MCN is also saluting one vendor honoree and one leading diversity efforts.

Our on-air wonders are also an eclectic lot. Fictional fare is abundant with actresses showcasing their skills in original and acquired series. Others caught our eyes by sharing their expertise, wit and charm within the culinary and design worlds. Finally, we give two thumbs up to a woman working the sports beat and another on a game show.

These women also will be lauded at the Wonder Women luncheon May 10 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. Hope to see you there.

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