Myron Weinblatt, 76; TV Executive
Myron “Mike” Weinblatt, a former president of NBC Entertainment who was among the first network executives to move into cable television as president of Showtime in 1980, has died. He was 76.
Weinblatt, who also served as president of Multimedia Entertainment Inc., died Thursday in New York City of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, his son Richard said.
The executive told The Times in 1980 that he made the move after 23 years at NBC because of the greater creative potential in the promising cable industry.
During his four-year tenure, Weinblatt spearheaded the 1983 merger of Showtime with the Movie Channel Inc., creating a cable company second only to HBO.
As president and chief operating officer, he worked to make the newly merged company bigger, signing a five-year contract with Paramount Pictures in late 1983 for the exclusive rights to show the studio’s new films produced during that period. Among those were “Flashdance,” “Terms of Endearment” and “Star Trek III.”
The following spring, Weinblatt added 784,000 subscribers when he oversaw the purchase of Spotlight, a pay-per-view movie channel formerly owned by a subsidiary of Times Mirror Co., which also owned The Times until 2000.
Weinblatt also moved the cable company into 24-hour programming and encouraged presentation of Broadway plays such as “A Case of Libel.”
At Multimedia Entertainment, which produced and distributed the Sally Jessy Raphael and Phil Donahue talk shows, Weinblatt relocated the headquarters from Cincinnati to New York and worked to diversify the company. He left in early 1987 after less than three years, calling himself “one of the fallouts” of diversification.
A graduate of Syracuse University who served in Army counterintelligence during the Korean War, Weinblatt joined NBC in 1957.
He held executive positions in all major departments, including sales, talent, advertising, promotion, business affairs and programming.
In 1978, he became the first president of the newly created NBC Entertainment Division.
Two years later, he was named president of NBC Enterprises, a new division for sales of network programs for syndication.
Weinblatt served on the board and was executive vice president of the League for the Hard of Hearing for many years.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Annie; another son, Marc; and three grandsons.
The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the League for the Hard of Hearing, 50 Broadway, New York, NY 10004.