by Maud Kersnowski
In a major shake-up of its leadership, the Sundance Channel has hired three
new top executives -- Larry Aidem, Tom Harbeck and Liz Manne. The news came
yesterday, with the 1998 Sundance Film Festival just days away, and the channel
committed to a major promotional presence in Park City. The new management team
will split the responsibility of running the network.
Day-to-day operation of the Channel has been permanently turned over to
acting president, Larry Aidem. Tom Harbeck, the marketing and branding whiz
credited with making "Nick at Night", "TV Land," and TNT household names,
was named Executive Vice President of Programming and Creative Director. Liz
Manne, co-founder of New Line Cinema's Fine Line Features, rounds out the team
as senior vice president of programming and creative marketing, and executive
vice president of Sundance Channel Presents. Manne recently exited Fine Line in
a shake-up at that company.
Robert Redford, who has ultimate creative control at Sundance Channel,
"hand picked" Harbeck and Manne for their specific experience. "Tom
[Harbeck] comes into this job as somebody who has successfully branded a
network," says Aidem. "Liz [Manne] is a human Rolodex of independent film."
Together the hope is Harbeck and Manne can expand Sundance Channel's market
share through packaging and continuing a strong relationship with the
independent film community. Although the timing -- two days before the opening
of the Sundance Film Festival -- may seem dramatic, Aidem says, "There is
nothing magical about the fact we're announcing it on the eve of the festival."
Former Sundance Channel executive vice president -- Dalton Delan -- left earlier
this month "by mutual decision, to go elsewhere," Aidem told indieWIRE.