Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Former SOAPnet Excecutive Deborah Blackwell Dead at 63

Deborah Blackwell, the former general manager of SOAPnet, died Friday in Virginia after battling Pick's disease for seven years, Deadline.com reported. She was 63.

Blackwell ran SOAPnet from 2001 to 2007, building the network for Disney's ABC Cable Networks group. Under her leadership the channel's distribution reportedly grew to more than 67 million homes, with SOAPnet gaining same-day rights to NBC and CBS programming, along with soaps from owner ABC.

The channel also acquired primetime shows under Blackwell's leadership, including ONE TREE HILL and THE O.C. It added original programming as well, launching the scripted series GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT and the reality show THE FASHIONISTA DIARIES

After Blackwell left the network, Brian Frons, who took charge in SOAPnet in 2006, tried to rebrand the channel for a general women's audience (think WeTV) versus one dedicated to soap operas. With programming decisions such as Sunday night movies that had nothing to do with serialized drama or its stars, SOAPnet's ratigns started to decline. By 2010, Disney had decided to eliminate SOAPnet, and launch replacement network Disney Jr. SOAPnet remained on some cable systems until December 31, 2010.

Before joining SOAPnet, Blackwell served as president of Idealab's MyHome.com. From 1993-1999, Blackwell headed the TV movie and miniseries department of the William Morris Agency, packaging projects with such clients as Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin and Drew Barrymore. Before becoming an agent, Blackwell was a development executive at Hearst Entertainment, rising from director to SVP.

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