Fox and Warner Bros. Executive Dies at 77

( – Jamie Kellner, a veteran and pioneer in the film and TV industry, has passed away at 77 years old.

Kellner is credited for being instrumental in the creation of Fox Broadcasting and helping build the network into the media giant that it is today. Kellner is also responsible for creating the WB (Warner Brothers) network, where he managed to tap into a previously ignored market, spurring the network to create shows such as “Dawson’s Creek” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

Kellner’s death was confirmed by a spokesperson for his family. He died in his home in Montecito, California, which is close to Santa Barbara. A bout with cancer was cited as the cause of his death.

Kellner was a key component of creating programming that ran counter to the then-formulaic offerings of what was then considered to be the “Big Three” networks — ABC, NBC and CBS.

After being appointed as president of Fox Broadcasting Company by owner Rupert Murdoch and board chairman Barry Diller in 1986, Kellner noticed that the Big Three only offered mediocre programming, and aimed at a middle-aged audience. The 1987 Fox sitcom “Married with Children” kicked off Fox’s attempts to steal the Big Three’s audience.

However, Kellner felt that audiences 35 years old and younger were an untapped market. He proved his theory with the success of shows such as “Melrose Place”, which came out in 1992. Melrose Place, a drama about the social comings and goings of 20-year-olds, was a big hit, putting Fox Broadcasting as the top choice of viewers aged 18 to 34.

After seven years at Fox, Kellner went on to create WB, accompanied by a number of people from Fox who shared his vision of tapping into programming that targeted younger viewers. Again, Keller’s vision netted the network a large chunk of the prime time audience, with the then-20-something crowd making shows like Buffy and Dawson’s cult classics.

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