MEDIA GRAPEVINE BUZZES ABOUT UPN JOB CANDIDATES: MANDELKER'S NAME TOPS LIST AFTER SALES EXEC DEPARTS NBC

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Immediately after word leaked out that ad sales heavyweight Mike Mandelker was leaving NBC-TV, his name rocketed to the top of the media grapevine's list of candidates to replace Perri Stein as the top ad sales person at UPN.

Ms. Stein, whose contract with UPN expires this fall, has already left the network by mutual consent. For several months, UPN has been conducting a search for her replacement (AA, June 22). The successor search is also being closely watched because of its generous financial terms: The job is said to include a four-year contract at $400,000 to $600,000 per year. Brad Marks International, Los Angeles is conducting the search, expected to culminate next month. UPN declined comment.

SURPRISE MOVE

The timing of the departure of Mr. Mandelker, NBC's senior VP-general manager of eastern sales, caught most agency media executives by surprise. While Mr. Mandelker had recently lost a power struggle to Keith Turner, now president of NBC Sales, few thought he'd leave so quickly.

Ordinarily acerbic and plain-speaking, Mr. Mandelker declined comment on his departure and future plans; Mr. Turner didn't return phone calls by deadline.

"Inside NBC, I don't think Mike has ever been too politic, so his straightforwardness, his gruffness, if you will, was perceived negatively," said one agency media buyer. "But I think most of us on the other side of the table think he's a decent, straight-ahead guy."

Several executives within and outside NBC said they would not be surprised if Mr. Turner made a number of other personnel changes.

Besides Mr. Mandelker, UPN is said to be considering a number of CBS sales executives for its top ad sales slot. "With Mel [Karmazin, president-chief operating officer, CBS Corp.] riding herd on all their sales guys, I think they've all put in for the UPN job," joked one cable network executive.

OTHER CANDIDATES

One recent dictate of Mr. Karmazin that hasn't sat well with the sales staff is that they must call on a minimum of two agencies a day, insiders said. He's also believed to be considering putting all CBS' national sales people on commission, a move already made with the local sales staff.

Not only has Joe Abruzzese, president, CBS Sales, been mentioned for the UPN job by agency and rival network execs, but so have a number of his lieutenants, including Dan Colby, VP-national sales; and Mike Guariglia, Chris Simon and Duncan Ryder, all VP-sales. Mr. Ryder is also seen as the top candidate to take over Olympics sales at NBC, Mr. Turner's former position.

Mike Shaw, exec VP, Buena Vista Television Advertising Sales, and Neil Baker, VP-group sales director, Fox Broadcasting, are also seen as UPN candidates.

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