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New ABC Executive Jamie Tarses Brings NBC Approach to Job

July 26, 1996

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ When ABC hired NBC executive Jamie Tarses as its new programming chief, she couldn’t bring along her ``Friends.″ But she did bring a new management approach.

ABC is restructuring the way it develops and directs its primetime entertainment shows, modeling the new approach in part on NBC’s operation, Tarses said Friday.

Executive teams will be responsible for developing new comedies and dramas and, instead of handing off oversight when the programs go on the air, will continue to oversee them.

``It seemed like the most effective system,″ Tarses, who helped develop ``Friends″ and other hit comedies while at NBC, told members of the Television Critics Association.

ABC vice presidents Greer Shephard and Carolyn Ginsburg were put in charge of the drama and comedy teams, respectively.

In Tarses’ first meeting with reporters since taking over as ABC Entertainment president on June 20, Tarses shared the stage with the man she replaced: Ted Harbert, now ABC Entertainment chairman.

The two are working together smoothly, said Harbert, who during his tenure had seen the network fall behind NBC. He asserted that ABC’s relationship with new parent company Walt Disney Co. was equally efficient.

Disney chairman Michael Eisner was not trying to make ABC’s programming ``all family, all the time″ in reflection of Disney’s traditional approach in other areas of entertainment, Harbert said.

``He knows that won’t get him a return on his rather hefty investment,″ he said.

Eisner does weigh in on some programming questions, Harbert said, but no more than previous ABC-Capital Cities Inc. bosses had done.

Tarses said there was a certain luxury for ABC heading into the fall season as ratings runner-up to NBC.

``I think there’s something dangerous about being the No. 1 network, because you have to watch your back. ... Not being No. 1 gives you the opportunity to take a lot more chances,″ she said.

Asked about the advantage NBC might be gaining for its fall programming from a barrage of Olympic promotional spots for new shows, Harbert replied ``Zip.″

``Zip might be strong a word,″ he continued, but said the gap between the end of the Summer Games and the start of the fall season would tend to dilute the impact.

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