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Jamie Kellner is a former American television executive. He was chairman and chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a division of Time Warner which includes TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network. Kellner took over the post in 2001 and handed over the company to Philip Kent in 2003. He was the chairman of station ownership group ACME Communications, a post held from the company's founding until its folding in 2016.
Early life and education
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (May 2017)
After college he participated in the CBS Executive Training Program and after CBS disposed of its syndication division, he rose to the rank of vice president for first-run programming, development, and sales at Viacom. In 1978, he accepted a job as executive of Filmways, a film and television producer and distributor.
In 1982, after Filmways was taken over by Orion Pictures, he served as president of its Orion Entertainment Group, where he oversaw and supervised their programming and syndication activities including the launch of Cagney and Lacey. In 1986, he was the first executive hired by Rupert Murdoch and Barry Diller to develop a fourth television network to compete with the big three. At Fox, he was charged with building the affiliate network, selling programming to advertisers, and the establishment of relations with program producers.
Fox Broadcasting Company
Kellner was present at the creation of the Fox Broadcasting Company, which was then considered a radical idea, as it was taking on the three networks that had dominated American television since the 1950s, ABC, CBS and NBC (CBS and NBC were really the "big two", in regards to ratings and number of affiliates, until ABC experienced a surge in popularity in the late 1960s).
Despite incredible skepticism, Kellner was part of the team that gave the network the "attitude" that has marked the network ever since. Among the shows that emerged during Kellner's seven years at Fox were The Simpsons, Married... with Children, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and In Living Color. Those shows held the fledgling "web" together until Fox shocked the TV world by winning partial rights to the National Football League in 1994 from CBS; that, as well as channel upgrades in many markets due to Fox's alliance and merger with New World Communications, made Fox a legitimate fourth network.
WB Television Network
Kellner then spent seven years at the helm of the WB Television Network. He helped launch the new broadcast network in 1994. During his tenure, Kellner began by championing urban sitcoms, but eventually steered the network in the direction of teen and family-oriented dramas. 7th Heaven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Dawson's Creek, Felicity and Charmed all premiered during Kellner's presidency.
Head of Turner Broadcasting System
Kellner was made head of Turner Broadcasting System in 2000. He was ultimately the one who made the decision to cancel World Championship Wrestling (WCW) programming on Turner's networks in 2001. The once-powerful WCW was the largest wrestling promotion in the world popularity-wise in the mid-1990s, besting its rival World Wrestling Federation (WWF) head to head on Monday Nights for 83 consecutive weeks. By 2001, it was declining, and lost roughly $80 million the previous year. A combination of resurgent competition from WWF, as well as many bad booking and financial decisions had all but killed WCW's fanbase and profitability. With WCW no longer being financially viable, and AOL Time Warner wanting nothing to do with the product further (desiring to move in a different direction), Kellner canceled all WCW programming on Turner Networks. This left WCW without a television contract, and hastened its eventual purchase by WWF chairman Vince McMahon. In the book The Death of WCW by Bryan Alvarez and RD Reynolds, Kellner is listed as the official "killer" of WCW. Insofar as he made the official call to remove it from Turner Networks.
Kellner and his wife, Julie, have one child.
- Lieberman, Allyson (March 7, 2001). "KELLNER IS WELL-SUITED FOR NEW JOB". New York Post. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television. pp. 1243–44.
- "Revisiting The Failed Fusient Media/WCW Deal from 2000". RSEN Report. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
- "The Death of WCW: Truth, Lies, and Everything in Between". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2017-12-09.