James T. Yee, former executive director of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) died March 17 in Piedmont, Calif., after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 53. The former producer and community organizer headed ITVS for seven of its 10 years, 1994-2000. He fought off numerous budget cuts for the CPB-funded service, while building connections between public TV and his constituency of independent producers. Before joining ITVS, Yee co-founded and served as first executive director of the National Asian American Telecommunications Association, helping to raise the profile of Asian-Americans in TV and film.
Serialized adventures of an orphan mouse who dreams of becoming a heroic warrior come to the screen [in April 2001] through American Public Television. Redwall, an animated series about woodland creatures in a medieval abbey, stands apart from PBS kiddie fare as a series that’s not appropriate for the Barney and Dragon Tales set. Redwall is for school-aged kids. British author Brian Jacques, whose books are the basis for the series, began writing them out of dissatisfaction with modern children’s stories. “I thought to meself, what’s wrong with kids discovering the magic of a real story like I used to read as a kid?”
Anticipating the rollout of a new strategic plan and budget proposal,
PBS laid off 60 employees March 15. Although the 9 percent cutback of positions was spread across the company,
the programming department saw some of the most significant changes in what
PBS describes as a “strategic realignment” under President Pat Mitchell. Among the team of regional programming execs that Mitchell began hiring
last summer, Jacoba “Coby” Atlas and John Wilson were elevated as co-chief
programming executives. Atlas, PBS’s West Coast exec, now has responsibility
for all primetime and news/public affairs programs. Wilson remains in charge
of children’s content, fundraising and syndicated programs, and scheduling. Pat Hunter, formerly v.p. of programming administration, was promoted to
senior v.p. and assigned project management duties.
. . . And the way she couples spur-of-the-moment decision-making and openness to change with highly principled management has prompted some to call her the “Lady of the Iron Whim,” one of her many nicknames. She is not afraid to make enemies, or even fire longtime volunteers, if it helps keep the schedule fresh. . . .