Michael Ogiens, a longtime CBS programming executive who also produced telefilms, served as MTM Productions president and created TV’s The Lazarus Man starring Robert Urich, died May 25. He was 69.
A Los Angeles native, Ogiens began his executive career at CBS, spending 14 years between its New York and Los Angeles offices. As VP Daytime Programs, he supervised production on such soap operas and game shows as The Young and The Restless and The Price Is Right. After a stint as VP Daytime and Children’s Programming, he pivoted to primetime as VP Programs, where he was tasked with boosting East Coast production. Shows launched under his watch included 1984 comedies Kate and Allie and Charles in Charge and the 1985 drama Foley Square.
He then relocated back to Los Angeles to serve as CBS’ VP Comedy Development, working on such series as the movie spinoff Fast Times and pilots for My Sister Sam and Designing Women. The latter sitcom launched in fall 1986 but didn’t gain real traction until the 1989-90 season, when it broke into the year-end primetime top 25. The series starring Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Jean Smart and Annie Potts as Southern women who launch an interior-decorating business in Atlanta went on to finish the 1990-91 season as the No. 11 series in primetime and rose to No. 6 the following season.
Ogiens went on to found the Ogiens/Kane Company with his former CBS colleague Josh Kane. Together they developed and produced series and movies for network, cable and syndication including ABC’s The Young Riders, CBS’ Trenchcoat in Paradise, AMC’s The Lot and USA’s Into the Badlands. During that time, Ogiens also created TNT’s The Lazarus Man, a short-lived 1996 Western starring Urich as a man with amnesia who crawls out of a Southern grave after the Civil War wearing a Confederate uniform but carrying a Union revolver and sets out to finds out why he was buried alive.
Ogiens then was named as president of MTM Productions, where during his tenure it produced such series as The Pretender, Orleans and Good News along with multiple telefilms and game shows. His most recent credits include exec producing the 2015 TV movies All of My Heart and A Country Wedding and last year’s Love You Like Christmas.