The Disney/ABC Television Group today announced the formation of Times Square Studios, an integrated current entertainment programming and development division, following the announcement that Brian Frons, president, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, will depart the Company at the end of his contract in January 2012. Through that date Mr. Frons will assist in transitioning to the new structure and will be available to provide counsel to the management team.
The new integrated Times Square Studios division will have oversight of current entertainment programming and the development of new programming focused primarily in the areas of non-scripted lifestyle and health for Daytime and Syndication. The current programming that will be part of this structure going forward includes “The View,” “General Hospital,” “The Chew,” “The Revolution,” “Katie” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” “LIVE! with Kelly” remains part of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group division.
Vicki Dummer, senior vice president, Current Series & Specials, ABC Entertainment Group, will be promoted to executive vice president, Times Square Studios, Current Series & Specials, adding oversight of this new programming and development area to her existing programming responsibilities. She will continue to report to Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group, who, with this announcement, adds Times Square Studios to his portfolio.
Abra Potkin, respected former CBS News and entertainment development executive, has been hired as senior vice president, East Coast Programming & Development, Times Square Studios; and ABC Daytime veteran Ann Lewis Roberts has been named senior vice president, West Coast Current Programming & Development, Times Square Studios. Both will report to Ms. Dummer.
In commenting on the announcement, Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said: “Brian Frons has been the driving force in our successful Daytime division since joining us in 2002, and while we understand his decision to leave at the end of his contract, we’re sad to see him go.” She continued, “We took this opportunity to rethink our business, and the result was the creation of Times Square Studios. Having it be part of the ABC Entertainment Group, under the supervision of proven executives Vicki Dummer and Paul Lee, provides us the opportunity to bring greater creative resources, development strength and operational flexibility to this key area of our business.”
Mr. Frons said: “While my decision to try something new was not arrived at easily, nine years is a long time in television terms. I’m proud of the performance of ABC Daytime over that time, and of all of the accomplishments that our team achieved along the way. I’m especially pleased by the early results for ‘The Chew’ and excited for the launch of ‘The Revolution,’ which will be one more positive step in transforming ABC Daytime for our viewers. I’ll miss my colleagues and the wonderful talent that makes our shows, but know they are in very capable hands with Vicki going forward.”
“I am honored, humbled and thrilled to have been entrusted with this new opportunity,” Ms. Dummer stated. “Brian built an amazing team, and I’m looking forward to jumping into this new role and working with Abra, Ann and everyone in the group to make Times Square Studios a vibrant addition to our division.”
Mr. Lee added, “I’m really excited by the possibilities of Times Square Studios, and I think Vicki’s broad experience across reality and scripted makes her the perfect person to lead the charge.”
Brian Scott Frons was named president, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group in May 2006, where he oversaw the creation, production and delivery of all programming on ABC Daytime, SOAPnet and ABC Media Productions. He joined the Company in 2002 as president, ABC Daytime. Prior to that, he worked for the London-based SBS Broadcasting, S.A., where he most recently served as senior vice president of Programming, overseeing all programming, promotion and research operations for 12 SBS-owned and operated channels reaching about 125 million European viewers. Earlier in his career he was president, Creative Affairs, for New World Entertainment in Hollywood, where he directed program development and production for network, first-run syndication and international co-production. Mr. Frons has also been vice president, Creative Affairs, for NBC Productions.
In the Daytime Programming field, Mr. Frons has held various executive positions, including vice president, Daytime Programming, for NBC Entertainment, and director, Daytime Programming, for CBS Entertainment. In addition to developing, promoting or overseeing numerous series, Mr. Frons was also instrumental to the launch of The Soap Opera Digest Awards.
Mr. Frons began his television career in 1978 as one of three program management trainees chosen during a national search by CBS Entertainment. He holds a Master of Science degree in communications from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Vicki Dummer was named senior vice president, Current Series & Specials, ABC Entertainment, in June 2011. In this role Ms. Dummer oversees all current series and special programming for ABC’s primetime block. She reports to Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group.
Previously Ms. Dummer was senior vice president, Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night, ABC Entertainment, since June 2009. In that position she was responsible for the development and oversight of numerous programs, including “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Supernanny”,” “Secret Millionaire” and “Wipeout.” Prior to joining the Alternative Series & Specials department, she honed her skills in the arts and entertainment industry.
Ms. Dummer began her career at ABC in October 1996 in the Comedy Series Programming department. She worked on several of ABC’s most popular series, including “8 Simple Rules,” “According to Jim,” “Dharma & Greg,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Less Than Perfect,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”
Prior to joining ABC, she was a senior program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC. She has also held posts as executive director of a statewide service organization for dancers and performance artists, and was manager of a modern dance company.
Ms. Dummer received a Bachelor of Arts in arts administration from Ohio State University.
Abra Potkin joins Times Square Studios as senior vice president, East Coast Programming & Development, from CBS Television Distribution, where she served as senior vice president, Talent, Development & Programming since 2006. During her tenure there, she worked on such shows as “Dr. Phil,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider.” Prior to that, Ms. Potkin spent eight years as director of production, West Coast Bureau, for CBS News / “48 Hours.”
From 1995-1999, she served as a producer for CBS News / “Before Your Eyes,” a division created to develop two-hour real-life stories, called “news-movies,” that would air as movies of the week. She was one of the key people responsible for turning the division into an award-winning, highly rated and critically acclaimed franchise.
She began her career at CBS News / “48 Hours” as an associate producer, where she produced hundreds of hours of television.
Ms. Potkin is the recipient of three Edward R. Murrow Awards, three Emmy Gabriel Awards, a Nancy Susan Reynolds Award and a “Women in TV” Award. She received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New York University.