The most successful broadcasting network is in the throes of a ‘people’ crisis. In a curt afternoon announcement on Friday, STAR said its chief executive officer Michelle Guthrie had resigned and was being replaced by Hong Kong-based president of STAR, Paul Aiello.
There was no official statement on the India-based CEO of STAR Entertainment, Sameer Nair, but senior STAR sources confirmed that he too had put in his papers. His senior mentor in Hong Kong and chief operating officer of STAR, Steve Askew, is on long medical leave.
The private tug-of-war among the top brass has raised questions about Shah Rukh Khan-hosted
Kaun Banega Crorepati
? KBC has been a Sameer Nair show from the beginning and its extremely expensive SRK reincarnation is supposed to be STAR’s answer to losses in recent months of both advertising revenue as well as eyeballs.
There is Rs 130 crore in advertising riding on the one-hour daily reality show, not to mention the millions of KBC fans waiting to see if SRK can come up to the tall performance of Amitabh Bachchan.
In production costs alone, STAR has invested over Rs 100 crore for the 52-episode show — most of it on SRK who is charging Rs 70 lakh per episode.
Nair was unavailable for comment on Friday but a STAR spokesperson said, "Nair drives to SRK’s house everyday. He is on the show. How can he leave?” Nair was in office today, but the STAR spokesperson was not sure if he would be coming in on Monday.
In has been a quixotic turn of events for all STAR watchers. Peter Mukerjea, CEO of STAR India, had earlier fallen out with his Hong Kong boss Guthrie and was seen to be on the way out since March 2006 when Sameer Nair was elevated as Joint CEO.
Suddenly the Guthrie team — including Askew and Nair — are out. So what happens to Peter Mukerjea? Will the Hong Kong Mandarins plum for a brand new CEO for India or will they opt for the old warhorse to take the driver’s seat?
“I have not quit. Nor do I intend to. I have a contract till end-2008,” Mukerjea told
, but hedged saying: “I have to see whether the structure will be redefined.”
As for Nair, there are pointers that an alliance is brewing with Karan Johar, SRK and Sameer Nair as a triumvirate under the
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