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Jamie Tarses doesn't get enough credit for her positive impact on NBC and ABC

  • Tarses, the first woman to run a major network entertainment division who died Monday at age 56, is credited with shepherding hit shows like Mad About You, Friends and Frasier at NBC. But her three years programming ABC, from 1996 to 1999, were so rocky, leading to her quitting, that her tenure might look like a disaster. Even though she only had one breakout hit in Dharma & Greg and one critically acclaimed show in Sports Night, she did a good job making ABC more competitive, says Michael Schneider. "As the New York Times’ Bill Carter noted in 1999, but has perhaps been lost to memory over time, NBC arguably lost its way in comedy after Tarses left for ABC, and Tarses departed the Alphabet network in much better shape (and ready for a younger-demo future, which it capitalized on in the 2000s) than when she arrived," says Schneider. "She doesn’t get enough credit for that, perhaps due to those salacious headlines (and, fair enough, perhaps how she handled that scrutiny)." Schneider adds: "Free of the press microscope as an entertainment president, Tarses reinvented herself as a successful producer, having landed many shows on the air in subsequent years. Some former network toppers disappear after leaving that gig, but Tarses in many ways became even more successful doing more of what she did best: Taking brilliant creators’ ideas and helping turn them into TV shows. That notably included several shows for Turner, including My Boys, Men at Work, Hawthorne and Franklin & Bash. She helped shepherd one of the greatest comedies of the 2010s, ABC’s gone-too-soon Happy Endings. And Tarses was busy right up to her passing, via Amazon Prime Video’s The Wilds and Disney Plus’ The Mysterious Benedict Society.”

    TOPICS: Jamie Tarses