MCA Inc. on Sunday ended a two-month search for a top TV executive by naming Fox Television executive R. Gregory Meidel as chairman of its MCA Television Group.
Meidel, whose appointment had been expected throughout Hollywood, is president and chief operating officer of Fox's Twentieth Television unit, which oversees such activities as non-network production and distribution.
Meidel replaces Tom Wertheimer, who resigned in late August, and reports to MCA President Ron Meyer. Meidel, whose Fox contract was to have expired this coming February, said his starting date is still being worked out.
Boosting MCA's lagging television business has been a top priority for both Meyer and Edgar Bronfman Jr., chief executive of MCA corporate parent Seagram Co. In June, Seagram bought 80% of Meidel
MCA from Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial for $5.7 billion.
MCA has been weak in such areas as comedy, despite boasting the hit series "Coach."
A native of Danville, Ill., Meidel, 42, is known as a top television salesman and marketer of programs. The main question raised by Hollywood executives is how much Meidel can contribute to the creative end of the business.
But in an interview Meidel said that he can make a creative contribution, adding that his experience at Fox has given him a good feel for what works on TV.
Meyer also expressed confidence in Meidel, and downplayed any lack of creative experience. "It's a business of instincts and the ability to find the right creative people to do the shows," Meyer said. "He's not writing the shows, not directing them, not producing them and not acting in them. He's going to be the person putting the right people together to do these shows."
Meidel said his first goal is to recruit top comedy writers and producers.
There has been continuing speculation that MCA will seek some kind of an alliance with a television network, or invest in one, to ensure an outlet for its shows. Meidel, however, said network ownership makes the most sense when companies own television stations--which MCA doesn't. He added that networks are always going to want to air quality shows regardless of who produces them.