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Fox Puts an FX Expert in Charge

By Lisa de Moraes
The Washington Post
Friday, March 25, 2005; Page C07

Two days after Gail Berman, the head of Fox's entertainment division, told her bosses she was exiting to take a job at Paramount Pictures, Fox parent News Corp. announced that Peter Liguori, president and CEO of its FX Networks, has taken her place.

Yesterday's announcement signals a unique time in the history of the television industry.

In what is believed to be a TV first, there are now two men running the entertainment divisions at two broadcast networks whose claim to fame is that they were the brains behind "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck." They are Liguori and NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.

That's because Liguori was Reilly's boss when Reilly was president of entertainment at FX from 2000 to 2003.

Liguori is joining Fox at the best of all possible times. Eight weeks before the network is scheduled to unveil its prime-time lineup, Berman already has ordered series pilots for next season. Liguori will get to take all of the credit for the successes, and none of the blame for the failures.

In yesterday's announcement, News Corp. President and COO Peter Chernin noted that Liguori is taking over Fox at a time when the network "is in as good a competitive position as it's ever been, and that's thanks in large part to the leadership and creative instincts Gail Berman demonstrated in her five years at Fox."

It's true, Berman is one of those rare network entertainment division chiefs who leaves on top.

Fox is in line to end the season as the No. 1 network among the 18- to 49-year-olds advertisers pay a premium to reach -- something the network has never accomplished in its 18-year history.

Liguori will be responsible for all Fox program development and scheduling, as well as marketing, business affairs and promotions.

As president and CEO of FX Networks since 1998, he has overseen business and programming operations for FX and the Fox Movie Channel. Before joining FX, Liguori was a marketing executive at HBO.

We Watch So You Don't Have To:

How clever of "American Idol" suits to let viewers see Mikalah Gordon slaughter "Love Will Lead You Back" not once but twice this week. They insisted they were compelled to rerun Tuesday's "Idol" performances on Wednesday night after an outside firm posted the wrong contestant phone numbers during Tuesday's performance show.


Bottom line: No more Mikalah. Perky teener Mikalah, who got worse each week. How bad was she? So bad that during last night's results show, when the gang sang its second Red Cross Fundraiser CD candidate song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," the producers gave her only like one note to sing in the whole song. That was a big fat clue she was going to get pink-slipped later.

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