NBC Names Entertainment Chief

NBC's top two entertainment executives, who helped guide the network to the top of the ratings during the mid-1990s, are stepping down, the network announced Monday.

NBC appointed Scott Sassa, who came to the network last year after running Turner Broadcasting's entertainment division, as its new entertainment president.

NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer and NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield, who have run the entertainment division in tandem, will take new jobs. Ohlmeyer will stay with NBC in some unspecified capacity, while Littlefield will create a production company with NBC to develop television shows.

Ohlmeyer will work with Sassa until 1999 in order to create a smooth transition.

With shows like ER, Seinfeld, and Friends, NBC has dominated the television landscape in recent years.

So far this television season, the network has clung to its No. 1 ranking, despite the loss of Seinfeld. However, NBC has, on average, lost more viewers this season than CBS, ABC, or Fox.

Littlefield, who said he felt "sensational" about his new production deal, told The New York Times he had begun considering doing something new when Jerry Seinfeld announced last Christmas that he would not continue his show.

"When it became clear that Don was not going to go beyond his contract, and as it became clear that Scott would be a player for the network, I also got very comfortable with the idea that it's time for me to move on to Chapter Two of my life," he said.

Littlefield had been entertainment president since 1991. But during a slump for the network in 1993, Ohlmeyer was brought in as Littlefield's boss in the executive ranks.

Since 1997, Sassa has been overseeing the operation of NBC's 13 owned television stations. He helped launch seven networks at Turner and headed operations and programming for all of the cable outfit's entertainment networks from 1992 to 1996.

Written By David Bauder, AP Television Writer