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Programer brings NBC strategy to ABC

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

When ABC stole away NBC executive Jamie Tarses as its new programing chief, she couldn't bring along her Friends. She did bring a new management approach.

ABC is restructuring the way it develops and directs its primetime entertainment shows, modeled partly on NBC's operation, Tarses said last week.

Executive teams will develop new comedies and dramas and continue to oversee them when the programs go on the air.

"It seemed like the most effective system," said Tarses, 32, who helped develop Friends and other hit comedies while at NBC. She was speaking to members of the Television Critics Association.

ABC vice presidents Greer Shephard and Carolyn Ginsburg were put in charge of the drama and comedy teams, respectively.

In Tarses' first meeting with reporters since taking over as ABC Entertainment president June 20, she shared the stage with the man she replaced: Ted Harbert, now ABC Entertainment chairman.

The two are working together smoothly, said Harbert, and ABC's relationship with new parent company Walt Disney Co. is equally efficient.

Disney Chairman Michael Eisner won't make ABC's programing "all family, all the time" in the style of the parent company, Harbert said.

"He knows that won't get him a return on his rather hefty investment," he said, adding Eisner wants hit shows and "if they're adult hits, great."

Tarses said there was a certain luxury for ABC heading into the fall season as runner-up to NBC.

"I think there's something dangerous about being the No. 1 network, because you have to watch your back. . . . Not being No. 1 gives you the opportunity to take a lot more chances," she said.