Zalaznick’s Task: Buzz for Oxygen


Lauren Zalaznick has won attention and buzz for networks like VH1, Trio and Bravo, and her boss wants her to do the same thing for Oxygen.

Zalaznick, president of Bravo, was named to oversee Oxygen last week when NBC Universal completed its purchase of the female-focused network’s parent, Oxygen Media. NBCU paid about $875 million, net of financial assets, for 74.6-million-subscriber Oxygen, which Geraldine Laybourne launched in 2000.

It remains to be seen what toll NBCU’s acquisition will take on Oxygen’s 260 employees, but president of programming and marketing Debby Beece left Nov. 16.

Zalaznick was given responsibility for Oxygen by Jeff Gaspin, who worked with her at VH1 years ago and is now president of the Universal Television Group.

“One of the reasons Lauren is fantastic for this opportunity is she brings an incredible amount of life to any network that she’s been part of, whether it’s VH1, when I was there with her; whether it was Trio, that she did on her own; or whether it was Bravo,” Gaspin said.

“She knows how to get attention for networks. And that’s what I hope, and expect, that she will do for Oxygen.”

Zalaznick said she will carefully study what shows have been successful on Oxygen, and then focus on duplicating the development of shows likely to be similar hits. She cited as examples The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency and Tori & Dean: Inn Love.

Gaspin couldn’t say how many Oxygen employees might be laid off. Laybourne will consult, and Oxygen president and chief operating officer Lisa Gersh will stay on for a three-month transition period, then assume a new unspecified role at NBCU.

Gaspin also said NBCU might try to create “a virtual women’s network” by selling advertisers a package that includes iVillage, Oxygen, Bravo and NBC’s Today show.