Lifetime's Programming Head Steps Down

Susanne Daniels, Who Developed Hit 'Army Wives,' Takes Consulting Role

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After three years as head of programming for Lifetime Networks, Susanne Daniels is resigning from her role. Ms. Daniels, who joined Lifetime in August 2005 from the WB, where she served as head of WB Entertainment, will remain in her position until she helps select a successor, and will stay on with the company in a consulting role.
Susanne Daniels
Susanne Daniels

Lifetime has undergone an executive shuffle in the last year. CEO Andrea Wong was hastily hired last April, after former CEO Betty Cohen resigned the day after the network's upfront. Debbie Richman, who used to spearhead TV buying for Omnicom's OMD, joined in March as Lifetime's head of ad sales after a nearly nine-month search for a replacement for former sales chief Lynn Picard.

Ms. Daniels will be spending the next year focusing on life with her husband, Greg Daniels, co-creator of NBC's "The Office," and their three children in Los Angeles. In a statement, she said, "It's not easy giving up working on a daily basis with the dynamic and talented team with whom Andrea and I collaborate. But I look forward to contributing to these networks on the move in my new capacity as a very engaged and passionate consultant."

Ms. Daniels leaves Lifetime as a network in flux. On the one hand, the network is celebrating its biggest ratings success ever for an original series with "Army Wives," which is currently reaching more than 4 million total viewers in its second season. A two-part movie that aired in March, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," earned Lifetime its highest ratings for an original movie since 1995, bringing in 5.8 million total viewers. And starting in November, the network will be the new home for "Project Runway," the hit reality show the network snagged from Bravo in April.

On the other hand, Ms. Daniels' efforts to develop other hit shows beyond "Army Wives" have been largely unsuccessful. An attempt to build a three-hour block of original dramas on Sunday nights last summer produced only one hit, "Wives," with the other two series, "Side Order of Life" and "State of Mind," failing to earn second-season pickups. Carving out a successful foray into reality programming has been equally challenging, with only the Carson Kressley-hosted "How to Look Good Naked" standing out among a recent slate of low-rated reality fare like "Top This Party" and "Matched in Manhattan."

Ms. Daniels' departure comes during a week of high-profile executive shake-ups in women's media. Last Wednesday, Susan Lyne was replaced as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia by two new co-CEOs, Wenda Harris-Millard and Robin Marino. That move was quickly followed this week by Discovery Communications' forthcoming Oprah Winfrey Network, which tapped Regency Television chief Robin Schwartz as its president. Then the Wall Street Journal reported that Victor Ganzi is leaving as president-CEO of Hearst Corp., which incidentally has a half stake in Lifetime along with the Walt Disney Co.
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