TCM Introduces Jennifer Dorian as New GM, Seeks to “Grow”

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New TCM G.M. Jennifer Dorian

To paraphrase THE WIZARD OF OZ, Turner Classic Movies has two new women behind the curtain, and they’re not to be ignored.

Variety and Deadline Hollywood reported today that Jennifer Dorian has been named general manager of TCM, a development I first reported exclusively more than two months ago. (TV Week credits Cinematically Insane with the scoop here.) In fact, Dorian’s new role took effect at the end of October, in a corporate restructuring following the completion of the Turner 20/20 cost-cutting initiative.

Dorian, a fifteen year veteran of the company and previously the chief strategy officer for Turner Entertainment Networks, will report directly to Coleman Breland, president of Turner Network Sales.

“Jennifer is an incredibly smart and strategic executive as well as a standout leader with a proven track record of innovation,” Breland said today in a statement. “I have complete confidence she will perfectly position the TCM brand and implement successful, out-of-the-box ideas as we move the business forward into the future of the TV industry.”

Jeff Gregor at the 2013 TCM Film Fest (photo: John Nowak)

Former G.M. Jeff Gregor at the 2013 TCM Film Fest (photo: John Nowak)

Today’s announcement confirms that TCM will now function as a separate and autonomous unit within Turner Broadcasting, no longer connected in reporting structure to its sister networks. Jeff Gregor, who had previously served as TCM general manager and chief marketing officer for TNT and TBS, will continue his role at TNT and TBS only, with Kevin Reilly as president of TNT and TBS and chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment. The hiring of Reilly, former head of programming for Fox and NBC, was announced on November 4. Reilly replaced Steve Koonin, who stepped down in April as president of Turner Entertainment Networks to become chief executive of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, which used to be owned by Turner but was spun off in 2004. Got all that? Good.

In addition to confirming what readers of this blog already knew, Turner also announced today that Genevieve McGillicuddy has been promoted to vice president of brand activation and partnerships for TCM, up from senior director.

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Genevieve McGillicuddy, V.P. of Brand Activation and Partnerships

McGillicuddy is a familiar face to attendees of the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, where she has served as managing director since the Festival’s inception in 2010. She joined Turner in 2004 and previously was director of the Atlanta Film & Video Festival and Out on Film, the Atlanta Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. McGillicuddy will report to Dorian, and both will continue to be based in Atlanta. 

“Genevieve has been vital to the growth of TCM and her branding expertise, knowledge of the industry, and innovative thinking make her one of the best in the business,” said Dorian.” “I’m thrilled to have her lead our team as we look to expand and grow the TCM brand moving forward.”

If you’re a Turner Classic Movies viewer you have to love these changes. Dorian has been described as a “champion” of TCM, and McGillicuddy has demonstrated a remarkable ability to cater to the uniquely demanding sensibilities of classic film fans. The growth of the TCMFF from a boutique experiment in 2010 to a destination experience demonstrates that.

TCM’s status as a commercial-free network makes it unusual in the basic cable landscape. There’s a lot of money lost by passing through 85 million households without commercials, but the network’s new status as standalone unit may allow for entrepreneurial expansion that will both generate revenue and delight the fan base. (And we’re hard to please, and resistant to change. Did I mention that?)

What that expansion will entail remains to be seen, but one clue may lie in the recent announcement of Sling TV, an Internet TV service expected to launch in the first quarter of this year. For just 20 bucks per month, cord-cutters can get Turner networks TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim (along with seven other channels) – all without a pricey cable or satellite subscription. They can add sister networks HLN and Boomerang for a few dollars more, and all can be watched anywhere, anytime, on a computer, mobile device, or TV (via a streaming player like Roku).

With seven Turner networks soon to be available sans cable or satellite, can a streaming version of TCM be far behind? As more and more viewers cut the cable cord and transition to over-the-top TV, the need to serve that audience is a requirement TCM has to consider. The Watch TCM mobile app (launched in November of 2013) is brilliantly constructed and could be also be offered direct to viewers for a monthly fee, but the risk is cannibalizing the existing business model. Even though Turner charges cable and satellite providers only pennies per month for TCM, 85 million pennies add up.

Only time will tell how Dorian, McGillicuddy, and TCM handle the challenges of the “future of the TV industry,” but one thing is certain: the opportunity to experience classic film in new ways will have many viewers over the rainbow.

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About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, video producer, print journalist, radio/podcast host, and social media influencer. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. My byline has appeared in Slate.com and more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a social media copywriter for Sony's getTV and a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
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10 Responses to TCM Introduces Jennifer Dorian as New GM, Seeks to “Grow”

  1. Hannah Kerwin says:

    Will, thank you for reporting these potentially bland corporate changes with a filigree of background information, a perceptive view of how the events are interrelated, and a broad, optimistic analysis of how upper corporate structuring and new technology may affect our TCM experience. Sling TV sounds promising, assuming TCM is added – if I could drop cable service but still have full access to TCM, I would seriously consider it.

    • willmckinley says:

      Thanks for the great comment, Hannah. I don’t think TCM will be added to Sling TV, because it’s too specialized a channel for a service with such a limited lineup. I do think it will be offered as a standalone, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, in much the same way HBO is planning a streaming version for cord-cutters.If this doesn’t happen by the end of 2015 I will be surprised.

  2. You are correct when you say that TCM viewers find all of this good news. Classic film fans are, at once, intelligent and needy (for our films). We understand what we want, and we don’t take kindly to not getting it. I have confidence that new management has a solid grasp of this small but vigorous base. The fact that there’s even a “branding” wing of the channel says (1) they hear how we’ve defined classic film fandom and are adopting it, and (2) as they recognize the existing base and continue to respect it, enough of it is viable that they know they can grow it.

    I’ve attended every TCMFF (because I’m an L.A. native and can practically ride my bike to the festival), and it has never really lost its boutique charm, as you called it, since that first festival. The only thing that has changed is that the first year, I bought my pass at 5:00 p.m. the first night of the festival, and now it’s an obvious event that needs no advertising. Otherwise, the fan community is so constant in its makeup and approach, I can rely on the same levels of “festival intimacy” each year because the fan community–and therefore the experience–remains familiar.

    Final note: I’m visiting my beloved sister in early March in Kansas. Out of the seven billion people on this planet to choose from, she is my second favorite human being behind my son. Illness on both sides has prevented in-person visits since 2012. As excited as I am to see her, I can’t help but think, “And after that, TCMFF!” Mentally, I’m leapfrogging over that trip to get to TCMFF2015.

    Classic film fan. What can I say? To paraphrase Morgan Freeman in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, I guess I just miss my community.

    • Lula Meadows says:

      Too Jennifer Dorian: Dear Jennifer, I have watched TCM for many years. I have been disappointed lately with the movies. I remember looking forward to the older movies. I am not happy with old,old, movies dating back to before talking movies. The kiddie theme, and very child like films we are seeing recently. What happened to the birthday movies of famous stars, dedicating the movies that the made shown on their birthday? I once wrote a letter listing my favorites. Maybe you could request from people my age ( 70 + ). You would be surprised. Did you know that (FX ) is now showing some of my favorites? Please go back to the movies I have grown to love on TCM. Sincerely. Lula Meadows. (Renalu1@verizon.net). P.s. I would be glad to send you a list of my favorites.

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  7. Lula Meadows says:

    Too Jennifer Dorian: Dear Jennifer, I have watched TCM for many years. I have been disappointed lately with the movies. I remember looking forward to the older movies. I am not happy with old,old, movies dating back to before talking movies. The kiddie theme, and very child like films we are seeing recently. What happened to the birthday movies of famous stars, dedicating the movies that the made shown on their birthday? I once wrote a letter listing my favorites. Maybe you could request from people my age ( 70 + ). You would be surprised. Did you know that (FX ) is now showing some of my favorites? Please go back to the movies I have grown to love on TCM. Sincerely. Lula Meadows. (Renalu1@verizon.net). P.s. I would be glad to send you a list of my favorites.

  8. karen says:

    I like the classics, I like some silents, I liked everything TCM did with Robert Osborne as it’s host. I do not look forward to what’s ahead. I’m sure it will only favor the money men/women and not the audience it is meant to serve.

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