McCluggage Will Head Paramount TV
After weeks of public speculation, Paramount Pictures announced Wednesday that it has named Kerry McCluggage president of its television group, the highly profitable division that oversees production and distribution of such shows as “Cheers” and “Entertainment Tonight.”
McCluggage, 36, had been president of Universal Television until June, when he abruptly quit after not being named head of its TV group. The appointment is the latest in a summer-long series of management musical chairs among senior TV executives at major Hollywood studios.
McCluggage, who will report to Paramount Chairman Brandon Tartikoff, replaces Mel Harris, who announced his departure only weeks after Tartikoff arrived on the Melrose Avenue lot in July. Although he is highly regarded by many in the TV business, colleagues nonetheless euphemistically blamed Harris’ resignation on “style differences” with Tartikoff.
In choosing McCluggage, Tartikoff picked someone he has worked closely with over the years. NBC, where Tartikoff headed programming before jumping to Paramount, relied heavily upon the slickly produced action-adventure shows churned out by Universal in the 1980s.
Since he joined Universal as a programming assistant in 1980 at age 22, McCluggage has had a meteoric rise, even by the fast-track standards of Hollywood.
While head of Universal, McCluggage successively maneuvered it away from producing costly one-hour action-adventure series upon which it was dependent and into more lucrative half-hour comedies such as “Coach” and “Major Dad.”
At Paramount, McCluggage will oversee the studio’s TV program and distribution units as well as its 50% interest in USA Network and its 49% stake in British independent producer Zenith Productions. In addition, he will be in charge of the TVX Broadcast Group of six independent TV stations.
McCluggage said his philosophy at Paramount would be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. On the other hand, I’d like to do more and better, (make) Paramount . . . the industry leader in all markets and work with the people who have helped contribute to it in the past.”
Although Paramount has had success in recent years with its syndication division by launching such highly profitable shows as “Arsenio Hall” and “Star Trek,” the studio has only had one new network comedy hit since “Cheers” went on the air 10 years ago.
McCluggage also arrives at a time when studios such as Paramount must find ways to make programs cheaper and still hold on to the talent that made their shows successful in the past.
His appointment becomes effective Sept. 30.