It’s barely been 24 hours since Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht exited their posts as presidents of Sony Pictures Television to head programming for Apple, and the town already is buzzing with names of potential candidates to replace them.
Because Van Amburg and Erlicht’s departure happened pretty quickly, there wasn’t a succession plan in place. The process is barely starting, and there is no short list in place but there are a couple of hypothetical candidates that has people talking. Two of them have worked closely with new Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra, who is getting his first test two weeks into the job with the search for the top Sony TV post. Luckily, he comes from the TV side, so he knows well all movers and shakers there.
The three veteran TV executives buzzed about early on are former Fox and Regency TV president Gail Berman, who runs her own Fox Networks Group-based company, The Jackal Group; WGN America president and former EVP Matt Cherniss; and former NBC Universal TV Studios president Katherine Pope, currently head of TV for Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8.
Word is that there have been no discussions with any of the three, and it’s unclear whether Vinciquerra would actually pursue any of them but all are logical candidates having held top network/studio positions.
Vinciquerra has a personal relationship with Berman and Cherniss who previously had worked with him at Fox. Before the Sony TV job became vacant, Cherniss, who may not be available right away as he is still under contract at WGNA parent Tribune, had been rumored as a candidate to run programming for Sony’s Playstation. And Pope is already on the Sony lot, working for Sony-based producer Robinov. CBS and Warner Bros. took a similar route with former ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz who was a WBTV-based producer when he was drafted to become president of the CW.
While the guessing game is a favorite past time for industry types anytime a big job is open, those hypothetical early lists are always speculative and have to be taken with a big grain of salt. Let’s remember that Vinciquerra was nowhere near the initial rosters of “likely” candidates to replace Michael Lynton ay Sony. He emerged later in the process but went all the way.