Longtime TV Historian, Researcher to Leave Lifetime

Tim Brooks Will Retire in December After 30-Year Career

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After more than 30 years as one of TV's leading research executives, Tim Brooks will retire from his post as Lifetime's exec VP-research at the end of the year. But the author of "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present" won't be abandoning the TV business anytime soon.
Tim Brooks
Tim Brooks

More projects on the way
In addition to prepping a ninth edition of his "Complete Directory" for publication this fall, Mr. Brooks has several other literary projects in the pipeline. At the top of the list is a follow-up to his Grammy-winning "Lost Sounds," which chronicled African-Americans during the early years of recorded music.

After teaching as an adjunct professor of communications at Long Island University, Mr. Brooks got his start in TV at NBC in 1977, where he held a variety of roles including director-program and advertising research; and director-television network research. He then made a brief dalliance to the agency side in 1989 when he became senior VP-media research director for N.W. Ayer. His last gig before Lifetime was senior VP-research for USA Networks, and he was there for the launch of the Sci Fi Channel as well as USA's expansion into Latin American and European markets.

Before he ends his four-year stint at Lifetime in December, Mr. Brooks has a few things on his plate to wrap up. June 4 sees the premiere of three new dramas, "State of Mind," "Army Wives," and "Side Order of Life," which will make Lifetime the first cable network to program a three-hour block with its own scripted programming. July will see the premiere of two more original shows, along with an ongoing stable of the original movies on which Lifetime has built its brand.

'It's time I stepped down'
"It's a good time for all the projects. ... I've had a great time here," Mr. Brooks said of his Lifetime run. "But people have asked me over the years, how do I manage to write books and stay so active in the industry? And they're right. It's time I stepped down to focus on these other projects full-time."

Noted for his ability to spot significant trends and developments in TV programming, Mr. Brooks said the next big wave TV will see is the return of the sitcom. "In 1984, there was all this press about the death of the sitcom, then along came 'The Cosby Show.' But [the sitcom] will return in some form or other. Maybe it will be midseason, the way 'All in the Family' was a replacement, because the network didn't have enough faith in it."

He also cites "Survivor" as the most significant show to emerge in the last 20 years in terms of its thematic and cultural impact. Much like "Laugh In" shaped sitcoms and even dramas in the 1960s, "Survivor" changed the way reality television was cast and presented, he said. "It was real people; so when you looked at the screen you wouldn't see people playing you, you'd see real people who are you."

'Worn out their welcome'
Given the 10-year cycle of TV trends, Mr. Brooks anticipates "real reality" to give way to another wave of programming by 2010. Most likely, the shows will fall in the vein of light escapism. "The heavy shows, particularly police procedurals, have worn out their welcome for younger viewers," he said. "The phenomenon of seeing real people in dramatic situations is not going to go away, but it may be lesser in prime time."

Said Andrea Wong, president-CEO, Lifetime Networks: "I've always been impressed by Tim's sage perspectives on the state of TV. Now that I've had the pleasure of working with him, I see first-hand all he has contributed to the success of the company these past seven years. Not only will we miss him, but so will the entire industry, which has relied on Tim as an invaluable resource of information and insights. We all wish him the very best of luck."
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