FORTUNE -- The Fortune Most Powerful Women list includes, among its 50 execs, three stars at NBC Universal. The most powerful of the trio has just gained more ground.
NBCU's announcement yesterday that Bonnie Hammer, No. 33 on Fortune's power list, is now in charge of all of the company's cable entertainment channels is not such a great surprise. Hammer reprogrammed and built USA Network and Syfy into two of the most lucrative properties in the cable business--while generating some $2 billion in annual profits for NBCU. But more than that, since Comcast (CMCSA) took over NBCU from General Electric (GE) two years ago, Hammer, 62, has proven herself to be not only a highly effective change agent (her latest overhaul: E!) but a strong manager who attracts talent on and off the screen. In his letter to employees, NBCU CEO Steve Burke called Hammer a "natural business leader."
While Burke is labeling Lauren Zalaznick's new EVP job a "promotion," it's really not that so much as an elegant way to keep two key executives in his stable. Zalaznick, No. 48 on the Fortune MPW list, is ceding control of two major networks, Oxygen and Bravo, to Hammer. Bravo is the onetime niche channel that Zalaznick refashioned into a red-hot, high-margin network for affluent viewers. Now without any significant P&L oversight, Zalaznick, 50, is directing digital strategy and more across NBCU. Given that she is the company's quirky, creative culture czar (her office looks like a colorful pop-culture museum display) and Internet champion, she has a gig that seems fitting. Now it is her job to make the role critical to Burke's plan to expand the company.
While Hammer and Zalaznick (who, coincidentally, both grew up on Long Island, the youngest of three children) grab the spotlight, the other NBCU exec on the MPW list, News Group chairman Pat Fili-Krushel (No. 41), wields her power more quietly. Fili-Krushel (also from Long Island, the eldest of three kids) was on our first MPW list in 1998, when she was named to head ABC. Ever since, she has spent her career advising Walt Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger and then Time Warner's (TWX) Jeff Bewkes behind closed C-suite doors. As one of Burke's key advisers, she's now more powerful than ever.
And with Steve Capus' recent exit as the boss at NBC News, Fili-Krushel, 59, is in charge of finding his successor. In the running for that big job: another NBCU woman, Alex Wallace.
"If Twitter is the telephone, we're the conversation."
That comment was a highlight of Fortune Brainstorm Tech's "Future of Television" discussion on Thursday—even though the person who said it wasn't in the room.
No offense to the panelists on stage: Disney (DIS) Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney, CBS (CBS) exec Nancy Tellem, and NBC Universal's (CMCSA) Lauren Zalaznick. But the remark--which moderator Jason Hirschhorn said former MTV Networks (VIA) CEO Judy McGrath MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 22, 2011 11:35 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
If you're a TV fan or any sort of media maven, check out this story about NBC Universal's (GE) study of viewer emotions toward the most-watched shows of the past 50 years.
NBCU surveyed some 3,500 heavy TV watchers and asked what emotions they felt viewing each program. Lauren Zalaznick, President of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, presented the findings, with cool moving graphics, at the TEDWomen MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 22, 2010 2:40 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
This week, TIME Magazine presents the 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century.
Interesting that TIME, Fortune's sister magazine at Time Inc. (TWX), includes just two businesswomen on its list. Both -- Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey -- are entrepreneurs. Since her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO), is struggling these days, Martha didn't make this year's Fortune Most Powerful Women list. Oprah, whose power keeps expanding and MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 22, 2010 12:12 PM ET
As I told you on Friday, there's apparently no truth to the rumors that NBC Universal (GE) exec Lauren Zalaznick, who built Bravo and oversees Oxygen and more there, has been negotiating for a top job at MTV (VIAB).
After the Postcard ran, Jim Citrin, the prominent Spencer Stuart recruiter who was spotted lunching with Zalaznick at Michael's (and thus fed the rumor mill, unintentionally) popped me an email. "Too funny," MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 14, 2009 12:23 PM ET
Rumors are spreading across the Internet that NBC Universal executive Lauren Zalaznick is headed to MTV.
"There is absolutely no truth to these rumors," says Cameron Blanchard, SVP of communications for NBCU's Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks--the unit, including the Bravo network, that Zalaznick oversees.
The response from Viacom (VIAB), MTV's owner: "There's no truth to the rumors," Carole Robinson, EVP of communications for MTV Networks, told me this morning.
How did the MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 11, 2009 1:57 PM ET
Seventy of New York's top women in media joined 160 aspiring young women for a "Mentors Walk" in Central Park this morning. It was drizzly and great. NBC Universal (GE) and Step Up Women's Network, a non-profit group all about advancing women and girls, hosted. The Mentor Walk's creator, former Oxygen Media CEO Gerry Laybourne, was there along with J. Crew (JCG) President Tracy Gardner, Bank of America (BAC) Merrill MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 11, 2009 3:15 PM ET
I'm just back from a funeral in Pennsylvania -- where I traveled late last night after the Time 100 gala at Manhattan's Time Warner Center. Strange to say, but two wonderful celebrations back to back. The funeral was for my closest childhood friend Meg's father, Jack Denuel, who died after a three-decade battle with MS. He was a great man who never whined and never said a bad word about anyone. Never.
As MOREPatricia Sellers - May 6, 2009 11:53 PM ET
Defining a brand and sticking to it is always difficult. Particularly in a downturn.
Which is why the success of Bravo - the NBC Universal cable network that serves up food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture to upscale audiences - is all the more impressive.
This morning, I went to Bravo's "upfront" presentation, where NBCU's Lauren Zalaznick, who built the network, and her team pitched their new season and their growth MOREPatricia Sellers - Apr 14, 2009 1:55 PM ET
Another power shift at NBC: Debi Fine, head of iVillage, is moving to the TV side as president of digital strategy. She'll focus on cable and report to Jeff Gaspin, president and COO of the NBC Universal Television Group.
Good move for Fine, who joined NBC after stints at Avon (AVP) and the Limited. She considered leaving the GE-owned (GE) entertainment unit as iVillage has floundered following its 2006 acquisition by MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 21, 2008 4:41 PM ET
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