Former top NBC executive Marc Graboff, who left the network last month, is finalizing a deal to run CKX, the parent company of Fox’s juggernaut American Idol. I’ve learned that Graboff will serve as president of CKX, with his contract expected to be completed in the first week of January. The company will not have a CEO, at least for the time being, with current CEO Michael Ferrel expected to exit at the end of the year. The news of Graboff’s hire at CKX was first reported by the New York Post.
Through his acquisition of 19 Entertainment, CKX owns Fox’s Amerian Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. The company also has a controlling interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises, which owns the commercial use of the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley, the operation of the Graceland museum and related attractions, as well as revenue stemming from any Elvis Presley TV specials, films and some of his music. I’ve learned that private-equity firm Apollo Management, which bought CKX for $510 million in June, plans to grow the company, with Graboff expected to spearhead the process, both through acquisitions of other production companies and organically, through development of original content for TV and digital.
Graboff, who left NBC for the CKX gig, had a major presence at the network for the past 11 years, steadily rising in the ranks from head of business affairs to chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios following the exit of Ben Silverman. He most recently guided new NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, who joined NBC from Showtime at the beginning of the year. “Marc was enormously helpful to me over the past eleven months and I want to publicly thank him for that,” Greenblatt wrote in an internal email announcing Graboff’s exit last month. “If anyone knows a way to get him to change his mind, let me know.”