Ending an extended executive search and months of speculation about who would head its television division, DreamWorks SKG on Monday named Dan McDermott, an executive vice president at Fox Broadcasting Company.
The appointment surprised some television executives because of McDermott's modest experience in development and because the new studio had seemed interested in attracting a marque talent.
McDermott has headed current programming since joining Fox in 1990, taking the network from two to seven nights of programming and supervising such hits as "The Simpsons," "Melrose Place," and "Beverly Hills 90210." But he had wanted the development job at Fox that went to Bob Greenblatt in February, sources said.
His development experience has been limited mainly to specials and late night programming at Fox and as head of development for Wilshire Court Productions, which made movies for the USA Network.
At DreamWorks, McDermott will work closely with Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is spearheading the studio's television efforts. Capital Cities/ABC Inc. has put $100 million into a joint venture with DreamWorks to develop prime-time and Saturday morning television shows. The alliance's first production, "Champs," from "Family Ties" producer Gary David Goldberg, is scheduled to appear on the network at midseason.
Among those DreamWorks had approached for job, sources said, were:
* Rich Frank, the departing Disney television head.
* McDermott's wife, Jamie McDermott, the newly promoted senior vice president of prime-time series at NBC Entertainment.