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NBC Program Chief Tartikoff Staying Put

Times Staff Writer

Brandon Tartikoff, programming chief at NBC during its climb from third to first in the TV ratings, was given expanded duties Tuesday as part of a new multi-year contract under which he will continue as president of NBC’s entertainment division.

Tartikoff, who previously had overseen all of the network’s entertainment programming and its production activity in the motion picture arena, now will take over responsibility for NBC’s advertising and promotion, and will be chairman of a new committee that will generate program ideas for all of the network’s TV divisions, including news, sports and stations.

The 39-year-old executive, who became president of NBC Entertainment in January, 1980, still had 18 months to go on his current contract but said he had been receiving offers to take other jobs, including “some major studio executive situations.”

To counter these proposals, Tartikoff told NBC employees and affiliates in a closed-circuit telecast Tuesday, NBC and its corporate parent, General Electric, had approached him with an extension that he accepted because it “includes substantial opportunities of the very sort I found attractive in some of the options I was considering.”

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NBC President Bob Wright praised Tartikoff as the best in the business at his job and called his decision to stay put “exceptionally good news for literally everyone who is associated with NBC.”

Neither Wright nor Tartikoff disclosed terms or length of the new contract.

The announcement came on a day when NBC had other reasons to beam: Prime-time ratings for the first week of the fall season in which there had not been Olympic programming showed NBC still comfortably in first place, with the five most-watched shows of the week--including two of its new series, “Empty Nest” and “Dear John.” (See list below.)

The new NBC Program Development Group that Tartikoff will chair will include the presidents of the news, sports, network and stations divisions. Its primary goal, Wright said, “is to build upon and enhance the communication, synergy and cross-pollenization of ideas that is so essential to any creative undertaking.”

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By bringing the division chiefs together on a regular basis, Tartikoff said, “we’ll be better able to anticipate and develop new program forms, ideas and promotion opportunities.”


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