20th Century Fox TV’s Howard Kurtzman to Retire, Carolyn Cassidy Promoted to President
Kurtzman has been with Fox since 1997 and is one of the most highly regarded business affairs executives in the TV biz. Kurtzman and Cassidy, president of creative affairs, have jointly run 20th TV together since July.
“Howard is an extraordinary leader, strategist, colleague and friend,” said Dana Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios/ABC Entertainment. “Working with him has been one of the true highlights of my career and that is a sentiment which is shared by every executive, creator and representative who has interacted with him over the past three decades.”
Kurtzman’s retirement comes after a period of realignment for 20th TV and other Disney TV production banners following the Mouse’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox in March.
Cassidy has been a rising star at 20th TV for the past few years. She was upped to president of creative affairs in July after another longtime 20th TV executive, Jonnie Davis, was named president of ABC Studios. After Kurtzman’s retirement, Cassidy will serve as president of 20th Century Fox TV. She joined 20th TV in 2009 as VP of comedy.
Kurtzman has been eyeing his retirement date for the past two years. Walden said she and others “begged” him to stay through the complex acquisition and integration process with Disney.
Disney Television Studios president Craig Hunegs — who was a counterpart of Kurtzman’s for years in his prior role as business affairs boss of Warner Bros. TV — praised the executive’s skill and experience.
“Howard is a hall-of-fame TV executive who has been responsible for some of the most impressive and groundbreaking deals in the business,” Hunegs said. “He’s a great leader and mentor and we’ll miss his terrific sense of humor.”
Kurtzman was a key player in the dramatic expansion of 20th TV that began in the mid-1990s, right around the time he arrived on the Fox lot after a long tenure with Stephen J. Cannell Prods. Kurtzman came to Fox as part of News Corp.’s 1997 acquisition of New World Entertainment, the former parent of Cannell Prods. He was promoted to president of business operations for 20th TV in 2014. Kurtzman is married to Sharon Klein, exec VP of casting for Disney Television Studios/FX Entertainment.
Kurtzman is known as a strategic thinker. He was part of a small group of business affairs executives who helped sort out new compensation formulas that helped bring an end to the 100-day writers strike in February 2008.
In reflecting on his run at 20th TV, Kurtzman cited the satisfaction of working on a number of the big hits that the studio has fielded during the past three decades.
“20th has been much more than my employer for all these years. It’s also been an incredibly vibrant and exciting place to work, where we accomplished so many great things together, from ‘Modern Family’ to ‘Family Guy,’ ‘Glee,’ ‘24’ and most recently ‘This Is Us,’ to name only a few,” Kurtzman said. “Those close to me know that I have been talking about stepping down for quite some time, and I am so grateful to Dana and Craig for their generosity through this process. This career has been an incredible ride – an E-ticket ride, in fact.”