Bruce Rosenblum's Surprise Entry Into TV Academy Chairman Race: He Talks, Board Members React, & What His Opponent Says

A new day may be coming for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences if Warner Bros Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum has his way. The high-powered exec — who also holds the title of Office of the President, Warner Bros Entertainment (along with Jeff Robinov and Kevin Tsujihara) — has essentially been recruited to run for chairman of ATAS in the upcoming November election to replace current chair John Shaffner, an Emmy-winning art director who ironically works for WBTV on several Chuck Lorre-produced sitcoms. Rosenblum will be opposed by at least one other candidate, Nancy Bradley Wiard, a veteran ATAS officer currently in her second term as first vice chair who confirmed to me in an exclusive interview today that she’s definitely in the race to stay, although she added, ”I guess I am going to have to get a publicist now.”

Rosenblum’s entry is a significant development both inside and outside the Academy because the position hasn’t had a big name since former Walt Disney Studios president Rich Frank served, first for a couple of years in the mid-1980s and later in a four-year term in the mid-90s. Since then, there has been criticism that ATAS has not had a true industry heavyweight to lead it through the ever-changing landscape of the business. “I think it’s great,” one veteran TV exec and longtime Academy member who once worked with Rosenblum told me today. “He’s an important guy, and it hasn’t been an important position for several years. If he gets it, it will instantly be an important position again. He employs a lot of the industry, and I think Bruce would bring dignity back to the Academy along with innovation and evolution.”

On the other hand, one board member who will be voting in the election expressed a little wariness today over Rosenblum’s entrance into the race: “To put an executive of this level, it could be a huge conflict. Everyone in that room could potentially work for him. Who’s gonna get in a big fight with him? Also, he has nothing to gain. Why would he want to do this with all the various headaches, personalities and convoluted structure he will have to take on? Who is dumb enough to step in to this pile of s***?”

Another board member welcomed the idea: “To get us through the transition that we need to make is gonna take someone of that stature and acumen to do that. I see this as a good development, a necessary one. It’s probably time for someone who hasn’t been an insider on the board to give this a fresh spin.”

Wiard, who actually once served on the executive committee with Rosenblum, touts her years of service and insider knowledge as a plus. She also says she realizes the importance of having major industry names appointed to the committee (she says she already has two of those commitments should she win) — just not running the whole show. Before Rosenblum jumped in the race, she says she was actually considering asking him to serve on the executive committee again. “We do need people with power that are willing to help the organization, to be able to put on another Super Highway Summit, to do those types of things,” she said. “I can’t reach out into that world, I don’t know that world well enough. It’s why our Foundation works; the big players are willing to serve, but I do not believe you need a president of a corporation to run the room. I do believe we are better off having one of our own.”

For his part, Rosenblum says he made the decision a couple of weeks ago and seems raring to go. “A couple of people came and approached me and asked if I would consider it,” he told me when we spoke earlier today. (more…)

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