Monday, February 9
3:45 PM - 5:00 PM
Keynote Roundtable State of the Industry
Kevin Conroy, Executive Vice President and COO, AOL Broadband
Eric Kessler, President, Sales & Marketing, HBO
Jack Abernethy, Executive Vice President, FOX News Network
Bruce Eskowitz, President of National Sales and Marketing, Clear Channel Entertainment
Robert Friedman, former President, New Line TV, co-Chair New Line Cinema; current President, Classic Media, Golden Books & Harvey Entertainment, Moderator
Eric Kessler is President, Sales and Marketing for Home Box Office, responsible for affiliate sales and marketing of the HBO and Cinemax pay television brands. Mr. Kessler spent the first eight years of his career in various brand management positions at The Gillette Company in Boston and at Lever Brothers in New York. In July 1986, he joined HBO as a marketing manager in the home video division. From 1989-1995, Mr. Kessler served as President of the division. In March 1995, Mr. Kessler moved over to the television business where he was named senior vice president, marketing, for HBO. In this role, Eric was responsible for the advertising, on air promotion, creative services, acquisition marketing, and Website activity for the network. In April 1999 he was named executive vice president. During his tenure as head of marketing, HBO was awarded the very first Emmy for a commercial and CTAM's Hall of Fame Award. Mr. Kessler has received the Cable Marketer of the Year award from Electronic Media and Advertising Age. In January 2003 Mr. Kessler assumed responsibility for affiliate sales. Eric Kessler holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Robert Friedman is President of Classic Media: Harvey & Golden Books Entertainment, the New York-based family entertainment company that is home to Underdog, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Casper the Friendly Ghost. As President, he oversees Classic Medias burgeoning portfolio of family-oriented properties, which include the former UPA, Harvey Entertainment and Golden Books entertainment libraries. He oversees the production, integrated marketing, licensing and promotional opportunities across all media including feature film, television and home video. Friedman has more than twenty years experience as a top-ranking entertainment executive in all facets of the business. From 1991 to 2003, he held a variety of key executive positions at AOL Time Warner, including his most recent roles as Head of Corporate Marketing for Time Warner and President of AOL, Interactive Marketing & TV. Most notably, he spent a decade in the New Line Cinema unit where he held the duel roles of President of New Line TV and Co-Chairman of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing, Licensing and Merchandising. At New Line, Friedman oversaw the $200mm+ yearly budget for the marketing and promotional campaigns for all of New Line Cinema's feature films. At the same time, in his capacity as President of TV, he oversaw the development, production, and acquisition of all television product for network, cable, and pay-per-view, as well as TV distribution and advertising sales of all New Line feature films and television products. In addition, Friedman managed the licensing and merchandising activity for all of New Lines feature films and TV. He also oversaw the new media and online activities for all of New Lines products. Recent New Line Cinema accomplishments include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Austin Powers, The Spy Who Shagged Me, which grossed over $300 million worldwide and was the highest grossing comedy sequel of all time. At New Line Television there have been numerous movies and series produced for all of the major networks. In addition, cable projects included a soap opera for MTV, multiple series for TNT, and a variety of cable TV specials. He also developed and produced animated series versions of The Mask and Dumb and Dumber for CBS and ABC, respectively, to support the film franchises of New Line Cinema. New Line Television has production deals with Ben Stiller and Trilogy, which is currently producing Twilight Zone for UPN. Friedman was a member of the original development team at MTV Networks, where for 8 years he worked on MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, and on the development of the pay TV subscription service, The Movie Channel. He was promoted to Senior Vice President of Marketing, Promotion, and Licensing for MTV and VH-1. Friedman began his career in advertising, where he was an account manager on the Procter & Gamble business at Grey Advertising. Friedman was one of the first men admitted to Vassar College where he received a B.A. in psychology. He earned his M.B.A. in from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. He serves on the Boards of Vassar and Columbia Business School. He was the 2000 Commencement Speaker at the Business School graduation. Friedman has also taught an introductory course in television at New York University. His industry honors include being named "Media Man of the Year" by ADWEEK, and named one of the top 100 marketers in the country by AdAge. Friedman serves on the Board of The International Academy of TV Arts and Sciences and has been a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) for over a decade. In addition, Friedman serves on the following other boards: The Mount Sinai Medical Center, The Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Council of Conservators for The New York Public Library, and The Big Apple Circus. In the 18 months since Friedman joined the board of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, he has become a member of the boards executive committee and co-chairman of the marketing committee. He was recently appointed as the trustee liaison with the medical staff. Friedman is married to Dr. Elissa Gretz, who attended Vassar College and most recently headed the Benign Gynecology Division of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital. She is currently on the GYN clinical staff at Mt. Sinai Hospital. They have two daughters, 14 and 12 years old, who attend The Chapin School in New York City.
Jack Abernethy, Executive Vice President, FOX News Network: Jack Abernethy serves as Executive Vice President, FOX News, where he oversees finance, human resources, legal affairs, and affiliate distribution departments, as well as the network's website, foxnews.com. Prior to this position, Abernethy served as the network's Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, during which he led FOX News Channel to reach operational break-even ahead of schedule. Abernethy began his tenure at FOX News as Vice President of business affairs and co-launch manager for the network in 1996. Before joining FOX News, Abernethy served as vice president of finance for CNBC, where he was instrumental in engineering the purchase and integration of the Financial News Network. Abernethy began his career at NBC, where he held a variety of executive finance management positions in his ten years there.
Kevin Conroy, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AOL for Broadband, America Online, Inc.: As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AOL for Broadband, Kevin Conroy oversees programming, product strategy, marketing, advertising and operations for the first online service specifically designed for consumers with a broadband connection. In this role, Mr. Conroy is responsible for managing the companys efforts to reach a growing audience of broadband consumers with its AOL for Broadband premium service that works with and enhances any basic high-speed cable or DSL connection. Mr. Conroy has spearheaded the introduction and expansion of popular multimedia features and programming specifically designed for AOL for Broadband including Video@AOL, Sessions@AOL Full Set, Radio@AOL for Broadband, Broadband Rocks Live; AOL Movies Theater B; and AOL Sports: 180 among others. Mr. Conroy is also developing partnerships with leading companies throughout the entertainment industry to make unique and relevant content available to AOL for Broadband members on demand. Previously, Mr. Conroy served as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of AOL Entertainment, where he was responsible for directing AOL's entertainment strategy for Games, Movies, Music, Radio, Sports, Television and Ticketing across the AOL service and its Web properties. Under Mr. Conroy's leadership, the AOL Entertainment group successfully launched a wide range of compelling programming franchises including AOL Games' First Play, AOL Movies' First Look and AOL Television's First Watch. Mr. Conroy's approach helped build the largest and most active consumer audience for online entertainment. Mr. Conroy joined the company in February of 2001 to form the AOL Music group, where he built the leading online music destination by offering unmatched opportunities for online consumers to discover, experience, and own music. Mr. Conroy and his team were instrumental in expanding consumers' ability to experience online media through enhancements to products like the AOL Media Player and Winamp; the introduction of new products like AOL's first built-in radio service, Radio@AOL; and the launch of AOL's first premium music subscription service, MusicNet@AOL. Prior to joining AOL, Kevin was Chief Marketing Officer and President of New Technology at BMG Entertainment, where he was responsible for overseeing all marketing and new media development for BMG's businesses. Under his guidance, BMG took a leadership role in the area of Internet-related music marketing and the development of new media properties.
Bruce Eskowitz, President of National Sales and Marketing, Clear Channel Entertainment: In July, 2002, Bruce Eskowitz became the President of National Sales and Marketing responsible for leading national teams focused on sponsorship sales of Clear Channel Entertainment's live entertainment assets as well as the creative development and implementation of marketing programs on behalf of the largest corporate marketers in North America. Formerly an Executive Vice President at Clear Channel Entertainment, Mr. Eskowitz directed the national sales of the company's music, theater, family entertainment and motor sports assets to corporate clients. With more than 20 years experience in the entertainment, sports, advertising and promotion industries, Mr. Eskowitz has a proven track record of developing broad sponsorship and marketing programs with corporate marketers including American Express, Anheuser Busch, Verizon, Ford, Levi's, Tweeter, R.J. Reynolds, Southwest Airlines, Texaco and Target. Mr. Eskowitz joined Clear Channel Entertainment in 1998, when, as President of PACE Communications, PACE was acquired by the company. During his two years in that position, he directed the sponsorship, merchandising and licensing activities as they related to various entertainment projects. He has worked for international advertising agencies serving as Senior Vice President and Account Director at Bates Worldwide and Campbell Mithun Esty. Bruce graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and is married and has two children, Kevin and Marshall.