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Full Circle: Michalchyshyn Teams Up With Redford — On a Show for Discovery

4/09/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Laura Michalchyshyn
says her new
job, partnering with
Robert Redford on TV
and online show shop
Sundance Productions,
was about eight
years in the making.

In 2005, she went to
work for Redford (and
CEO Larry Aidem)
at Sundance Channel
as executive vice
president of programming and marketing. In
2009, she moved over to Discovery Communications,
to oversee Planet Green.

Digression: Planet Green has just rebranded
into Destination America, a move Michalchyshyn,
who tried hard to broaden the
brand before she left last year, called “fantastic.”
Network chief Henry Schleiff has more to
say on the subject in a Q&A on page 33.

But back to the new job. Michalchyshyn
had continued to talk with Redford after she
left Sundance Channel about creating their
own TV shows, something the Hollywood legend
hadn’t really done.

The opportunity was there to add to the
Sundance portfolio a company that would “focus
on long-form series
and big tent-pole
one-off s, scripted and
nonscripted, in the
television and digital
area. It’s very exciting
for both of us.”

Project No. 1 is for
… Discovery. All the
President’s Men Revisited
,
planned to debut
next January, will be a
two-hour documentary
about the impact of Watergate, produced
for Discovery Channel worldwide.

Redford (who will narrate) co-starred in the
movie, of course, but the show’s real impetus
was Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Michalchyshyn
said. “He asked us,” she said. “Give
credit where it’s due. He’s a passionate force of
nature, so it was a very, very compelling pitch.”

Sundance Productions will be diverse, Michalchyshyn
stressed. Seven projects are in
development now, she said. Th ey include a comedic
series, other nonfiction shows and dramas,
led off by Valentines, a mini-series based
on Olaf Olafsson short stories. They also will
pitch Web content to the likes of Hulu, Yahoo!
and Google TV.

CableLabs Scouts
Valley Redoubts for
Next Tech Leader

Though it may not land the next Steve
Jobs
, CableLabs is canvassing Silicon Valley
for a new CEO.

Earlier this year, CableLabs enlisted an
unidentified Silicon Valley-based executive
recruiting firm to identify candidates to replace lame-duck president
and CEO Paul Liao, according to sources. The former Panasonic
chief technology officer told the consortium last October he
would not renew his contract, which expires at the end of 2012.

The first three CableLabs CEO prospects were interviewed
by some — but not all — of the board members in Washington,
D.C., the week of March 19. “The search is certainly going
slower than they had hoped,” a person familiar with the situation
said. CableLabs declined to comment.

For the MSO owners, injecting new blood into CableLabs is a
priority, as morale has flagged at the Louisville, Colo., shop over
the last few years, several sources said. It’s not clear whether
the R&D consortium is close to making a final decision on a new
hire, and sources did not know (or would not reveal) the names
of the three interviewees.

Whoever lands in the captain’s chair will need not only deep
tech cred but also the skills of a diplomat, as epitomized by Dick
Green
, the jovial CEO who ran CableLabs from its formation in
1988 until Liao’s appointment in 2009.

END IS NEAR
FOR ‘EUREKA’

Syfy’s dramedy series Eureka starts
its fifth and final season on Monday,
April 16, at 9 p.m. Creator/executive
producer Jaime Paglia told reporters
on a call last week the fi nal episode
was done on very short notice, after
the series was canceled. “Given the
constraints that we were under and
the pressures to really wrap up a lot
of character storylines, I’m proud of
the episode that we actually ended up
delivering,” he said. Joked star Colin
Ferguson (“Sheriff Jack Carter”): “My
death scene is one of the most moving
death scenes that you will ever see.”
(He doesn’t die: You can see him at
left in this photo, with Paglia, after the
episode wrapped.)

 

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