The Cable Center’s Innovation Laureates represent the most impactful and innovative leaders who have transformed the industry with shrewd business moves, groundbreaking ideas, and bold decisions.
Innovation Laureates aim to inspire and motivate the next generation of industry leaders through The Cable Center’s forward-looking programs and educational resources, including Oral Histories, Mavericks Lectures, and C5. Many of our Innovation Laureates are also Intrapreneurship Academy speakers and mentors, as well as Cable Center Ambassadors.
From engineers to business executives, to CX pioneers to marketing experts, each honorable Innovation Laureate brings a unique perspective to mentoring, teaching, and motivating the next generation of industry leaders and innovators.
- Nomi Bergman
Advance Newhouse Communications
- Leo Hindery
- Yvette Kanouff
Technology Entrepreneur, Board & Technical Council Member, Start-up Advisor, & Private Investor
- Mike LaJoie
- Ken Lowe
Chairman of the Board
President & CEO
Scripps Networks Interactive
- Paul Maxwell
- Phil McKinney
President & CEO
- Tryg Myhren
President, Myhren Media, Inc.,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees University of Denver
- Josh Sapan
President & CEO
- Quentin Schaffer
Executive Vice President
- David Zaslav
President & CEO
Discovery Communications, Inc.
CEO, Baker Media, Inc. & Director
A co-founder of CNBC and 23-year veteran of NBCUNIVERSAL, Bridget Baker is the CEO of Baker Media, an independent consultancy focused on entertainment and tech companies. She was NBCU’s longtime president of content distribution and key senior executive overseeing its $5 billion subscription revenue business.
Today Baker serves as a director on the board of Alaska’s largest diversified communications provider, GCIAK (Nasdaq: GNCMA), as well as several non-profit boards including her alma mater, Pitzer College. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards and corporate leadership recognition including the National Cable Television Association’s highest honor, “Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership.” After growing up in Alaska’s remote capital city of Juneau, Baker began her career on Capitol Hill as an aide to the late US Senator Ted Stevens. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and family.
Advance Newhouse Communications
Bergman is president of Advance/Newhouse companies where she focuses on corporate development and strategic partnerships. Bergman has over 25 years of experience as an operator, investor and advisor to technology companies, where she has focused on mobile, data and video communications, information technology and data services, advanced advertising, and emerging technologies centered on reimagining and improving the customer experience.
Previously, President of Bright House Networks, Bergman was one of the original Bright House Networks founders; who together led the company to become the sixth-largest cable operator in the United States, with 8,500 employees, 2.5 million customers, and over $4B in annual revenue.
Bergman is an avid skier and also enjoys running, swimming, cycling, and hiking. Her real moments of brightness derive from her role as a wife to her husband, Neal, and a proud mother of their three wonderful daughters, Rebecca, Dori and Allie.
MATTHEW C. BLANK, in a career spanning three decades, has made a significant and indelible mark on the cable television industry. Mr. Blank has been with Showtime since 1988, assuming the position of President and Chief Operating Officer in 1991, followed by President and CEO, and then Chairman and CEO in 1995. Prior to that, he served as Executive Vice President, Marketing, Showtime Networks Inc., where he oversaw all of the network's consumer marketing, creative services and public relations functions. Before joining Showtime, Mr. Blank worked for Home Box Office Inc. for 12 years, departing as Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing.
During Mr. Blank's tenure at SHOWTIME, he has helped transform the network into one of the most successful premium channels in the industry. Among the critically-acclaimed series are WEEDS, which has been nominated for four Golden Globe® awards, BROTHERHOOD, THE L WORD®, SLEEPER CELL: AMERICAN TERROR, DEXTER and most recently, THIS AMERICAN LIFE. In April, the network will premiere the highly anticipated original series, THE TUDORS, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as a young King Henry VIII.
Mr. Blank is active in numerous industry associations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA). Mr. Blank's service to the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Cable Positive are also among his many distinctions.
While at Showtime, Mr. Blank has garnered many awards, including the NCTA's prestigious Vanguard Award for Marketing in 1991 and the Vanguard Award in the Programming category in 1999. In 1997, he received the second annual GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Fairness Award. In 2000, he was honored with the Corporate Award from the National Corporate Theatre Fund for the network's presentation of "DEATH OF A SALESMAN." Also in 2000, Mr. Blank received the "Corporate Vision Award" from the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. In 2001, he was awarded a proclamation at the 2001 Pride Awards at City Hall in New York City, and he received the "Courage Award" from New York's Anti-Violence Project. Also in 2001, he was the recipient of People For the American Way Foundation's prestigious "Spirit of Liberty" award at its 17th annual gala.
In addition to his numerous accomplishments within the industry, Mr. Blank is a Trustee of the Harlem Children's Zone, is on the Board of Directors for the Creative Coalition, PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning), and is a Trustee of the American Museum of the Moving Image.
Mr. Blank is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, and he holds an M.B.A. from Baruch College. He resides in New York City with his wife, Susan McGuirk, and their children, Meredith and Gordon.
Co-Founder & Vice Chairman - Retired
Julian A. Brodsky, a founder of Comcast Corp., has also served as a director and vice chairman of the company, one of the nation's leading multi-system cable operators. Brodsky served as chairman of Comcast Interactive Capital Group, the venture capital fund arm of Comcast, which seeks and manages Internet-related investments complementary to core Comcast activities.
Board Of Directors
Jim Chiddix is a prominent technology industry executive, and is widely credited with many of the innovations that have shaped modern cable television services.
Jim served as Chairman and CEO at OpenTV Corp. (NASDAQ: OPTV) for three years, beginning in March of 2004. OpenTV is the world's leading developer of operating software and applications for digital set-top boxes. Under Jim's leadership the company achieved profitability for the first time and grew revenues from $63M in 2003 to over $100M in 2006. In January 2007, OpenTV's largest shareholder, Liberty Media Corporation (NYSE: L), sold its controlling stake to The Kudelski Group of Switzerland. Jim continues to serve on the company's board as Vice Chairman. Jim has also joined the board of Vyyo, Inc. (NASDAQ: VYYO), an innovative manufacturer of extended-bandwidth cable TV transmission equipment, where he also serves as Vice-Charirman. He also serves on the board of Symmetricom, Inc. (NASDAQ: SYMM), a market-leader in precision timing technologies for telecommunications and scientific applications.
Prior to joining OpenTV, Jim served as President of Mystro TV, a division of Time Warner Inc. Mystro developed and field-tested the world's first server-based television program time-shifting service. Some of Mystro's features are being deployed by Time Warner Cable today in its "Start Over" and "Look Back" services, and all will become widespread in cable, telco and Internet video in coming years.
Prior to joining Time Warner's corporate office, Jim held a variety of engineering and operating positions with two cable companies in Hawaii. Time Warner Cable's antecedent, ATC, eventually acquired those companies. He also established a successful technology start-up in Honolulu, CRC Electronics, Inc., which manufactured automated videotape playback, delay, and commercial insertion systems. Texscan purchased the company in 1981, and CRC-designed equipment dominated cable advertising until the mid-nineties.
Jim's interest in electronics and technology began with amateur radio in high school and continued at Cornell University, where he studied electrical engineering. During his military service he attended and then taught at the U.S. Army Air Defense Command School at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Jim was inducted into the Cable Television Pioneers in 1991. In 1994 he and his Time Warner engineering team won an Emmy Award for their visionary work on the hybrid fiber/coax architecture that has since become the standard for cable systems around the world. Jim's industry accolades include being named Cable Engineering Digest Magazine's 1989 "Man of the Year", and receiving the National Cable Television Association's 1983 Vanguard Award for work on the introduction of addressable set-top boxes, and its 1991 "President's Award" for his advancement of fiber optics technology. In 2007, the Cable Center announced that Jim had been selected for induction into the Cable Hall of Fame.
Jim has served on a number of boards, including the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (an arm of the National Research Council), as well as the boards of the Cable Center in Denver, the Society of Cable Television Engineers, N2Broadband (now part of Tandberg), BigBand Networks, and CV-21 (a Japanese cable television company, now part of Jupiter Communications).
Jim's father, Dr. Max E. Chiddix, is a retired research chemist. His paternal grandfather was John C. Chiddix of Normal, Illinois, a beloved high school science teacher and namesake for Chiddix Junior High School there. Jim is married to Trudy Evard Chiddix, a nationally recognized sculptor who works in clay and glass. They have homes in Evergreen, Colorado, and San Francisco. His interests include mountain biking, trail construction and model railroading. Jim recently co-authored Next Stop Honolulu, a history of the Oahu Railway (http://www.OahuRailway.com).
Executive Vice President, Product and Strategy
Rich DiGeronimo is Executive Vice President, Product and Strategy at Charter Communications. Mr. DiGeronimo joined Charter in 2008 as Vice President of Product Management, and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Product and Strategy in 2011. He was appointed to his current position in January 2015, and leads Charter’s product strategy, design, development, intelligence and management teams, as well as the business development organization.
Mr. DiGeronimo joined Charter from Level 3 Communications, where he served as Vice President and General Manager of the Cable Markets Group. He also held leadership roles in product management and corporate finance over his eight years at Level 3. Mr. DiGeronimo started his career at Bear Stearns where he focused on technology investment banking.
Mr. DiGeronimo was named Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Rocky Mountain Mentor of the Year in 2015 and serves on the Sponsorship Committee of Adaptive Spirit. He received a BBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Mr. Drendel has been continuously involved with CommScope (under a variety of umbrellas and with different titles) since the late 60s (dates differ depending on source). Continental Telephone purchased Superior Cable in 1967 and CommScope became a division under the new company. In 1976 Superior sold the CommScope division to a group of Hickory-area investors led by Mr. Drendel. CommScope then merged with Valtec, Inc., which was later sold to M/A-COM, Inc., and CommScope became a division of M/A-COM. General Instrument then acquired M/A-COM and CommScope in 1986. As a part of General Instrument's plan to split into three companies, CommScope was spun off in 1997.
CommScope is the largest manufacturer and supplier of coaxial cable for cable television applications in the US. It also designs, manufactures and markets coaxial cable and other high-performance electronic and fiber-optic cable products for LAN, satellite, cellular, and other communication applications. Broadband/Video accounts for 78% of sales, Local Area Network (LAN) for 11% of sales, and Wireless/ Other Telecom for 11% of sales According to Paul Maxwell, Mr. Drendel orchestrated the industry's first LBO [leveraged buyout].
Chief Executive Officer & Vice Chairman
Mike Fries is Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Global, the largest international TV and broadband company in the world, currently providing close to 29 million customers in over 30 countries with broadband, entertainment, voice and mobile services. With more than 45,000 employees and $20 billion of revenue, Liberty Global is recognized as a global leader in entertainment, media and broadband.
Fries was a founding member of the management team that launched the company’s international expansion over 25 years ago, and he has served in various strategic and operating capacities since that time. He was appointed president and chief executive officer in 2005 and is the vice chairman of Liberty Global's board of directors. He is also a member of its two-person executive committee along with the company’s chairman, Dr. John C. Malone.
Fries is an engaged industry and community leader. He is a Telecom Governor and Steering Committee member of the World Economic Forum and a member of Young Presidents’ Organization. He serves as a trustee or board member of many organizations, including CableLabs, The Cable Center, Grupo Televisa, Lionsgate, Alliance for Choice in Education and Teach for America, and he chairs the board for the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Biennial of the Americas. Recognitions for his achievements include EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Media, Entertainment and Communications, Industry Leader of the Year by Digital TV Europe and induction into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. In April, he will be inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame which recognizes pioneers and leaders in the cable industry. Mike holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, where he serves on the Board of Trustees, and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
Leo J. Hindery, Jr., 71, is Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners VII, LLP, which makes mid- to large-size media investments. InterMedia Partners VII follows on InterMedia Partners I through VI which were founded by Mr. Hindery in 1988 and, by 1997-1999 when they were sold, were the ninth largest cable system operator in the country. Until October 2004 he was Chairman (and until May 2004 Chief Executive Officer) of The YES Network, the nation's premier regional sports network he formed in the summer of 2001 as the television home of the New York Yankees, where he won five executive producer Emmys for outstanding programming.
From December 1999 until January 2001, Mr. Hindery was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GlobalCenter Inc., a major Internet services company, which was then merged into Exodus Communications, Inc. (During part of this time, from March 2000 until September 2000, Mr. Hindery served as interim Chief Executive Officer of Global Crossing Ltd., the parent company of GlobalCenter.)
Until November 1999, Mr. Hindery was President and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Broadband, which was formed out of the March 1999 merger of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI) into AT&T. AT&T Broadband encompassed all of AT&T's video, local telephony and data services operations. Mr. Hindery was elected President of TCI and its numerous affiliated companies, then the world's largest cable television distribution and programming entity, in February 1997.
In 1998, Mr. Hindery was International Cable Executive of the year and received the Foundation Award of the International Radio & Television Society, the Executive Achievement Award of the National Association of Minorities in Cable, the CTPAA President's Award for Outstanding Commitment to Public Affairs, and the Joel A. Berger Award for his leadership in AIDS and HIV awareness and initiatives. In 1999, Mr. Hindery was named Cable Television Operator of the Year, received from the National Cable Television Association its Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership, and was named by "Business Week" as one of the "Top 25 Executives of the Year". In 2002, Mr. Hindery was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Minority Media & Telecom Council, received the Oates-Shrum Leadership Award of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and was named a Founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In 2003, he co-founded, along with Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergey Mironov, Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA). In 2004, he received The Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award for his service to humanity and the Man of the Year Award of the Kidney & Urology Foundation of America. In 2005, he received from the Asia Society and TPAA their Founders Award for his efforts in the international fight against AIDS, notably in Asia.
Mr. Hindery graduated from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in 1971, where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree. He is a graduate of Seattle University. Mr. Hindery has received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from each of Emerson College and the Rabbinical College of America. He is currently an Executive-in-Residence at Columbia Business School. Mr. Hindery is a Director of the Daniels Fund, the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS, the Library of Congress Trust Fund, the Milano School of New School University, Teach for America, and Victory Junction Gang Camp. He is a U.S. Senate appointed Member of the HELP Commission, which seeks to improve U.S. development assistance and food aid around the globe. He is also a Director of West Virginia Media Holdings LLC.
Mr. Hindery is married to Patti Wheeler, and he has one daughter from a previous marriage, Robin Hindery, who is a journalist. For recreation, Mr. Hindery races a Porsche GT3 RS professionally, and his racing resume, which began in NASCAR from 1995 to 1997, includes the last four 24 Hours of Le Mans (2002-2005) where he finished second in 2003 and first in 2005.
Present Position: Retired Founder and CEO of Media Business Corp which provides the cornerstone of competitive intelligence for the global media marketplace as well as custom research and analysis. MediaBiz also publishedThe Morning & Evening BRIDGE e-newsletters as well as the quarterly reports known as The BRIDGE. Mr. Maxwell is an active Board member of The Cable Center and others.
Previously: Maxwell has started and/or run some 40+ publications ranging from CATV Newsweekly to Colorado Magazine to CableVision to Multichannel News and CableFAX. A successful popular song lyricist writing and performing in the early to mid-Sixties, Maxwell also served as an Army officer working as a combat correspondent for Stars & Stripes and as a combat historian during two tours in Southeast Asia.
Professional Associations: Founding Board Member of The Walter Kaitz Foundation; founding member of C-TAM; Cable TV Pioneer (1990) and Member of the Pioneer Board; and a Board member of The Cable Center.
Professional Accomplishments: In addition to his integral role in forming industry publications and associations, Maxwell is a decorated former Army Captain (Bronze Star with "V" for Valor; Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster). Recipient of the R. E. "Ted" Turner Innovator of the Year Award by the Southern Cable TV Association (1998) and winner of the Vanguard Award for Associates & Affiliates by the National Cable Television Association (2000). Maxwell is also a member of the Cable TV Hall of Fame (inducted in '04). Maxwell routinely speaks at industry events and is a member of a number of commercial boards.
Education: Studied theology at Southern Methodist University and Perkins Theological Seminary; studied journalism at the University of Colorado Graduate School of Journalism while learning to ski. Maxwell lives in Breckenridge with his wife, the former Evie Haskell. Maxwell is an accomplished skier, touring bicyclist, one-time lousy tennis player and avid sea kayaker.
Trygve (Tryg) Myhren
President, Myhren Media, Inc.,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
University of Denver
Trygve Myhren is President of Myhren Media, Inc. (Denver, Colorado), a private investment firm concentrating in media, telecommunications and software and other enabling technology. Mr. Myhren serves in Denver, Colorado on the board of AdPay, Inc. and as an advisor to Boomcloud, Inc.
Myhren chairs the University of Denver Board of Trustees. He is also a trustee of the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Forum and the National Cable Television Center. He served on the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as Team USA Chief of Mission for the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games (Torino & Sestrierre, Italy), and he was one of nine members of the Committee which selected the current Chief Executive Officer of the USOC.
From 1990 to 1996, Mr. Myhren served as President and a Board member of Providence Journal Company (PRJ), which owned and managed the Journal-Bulletin newspapers, 14 broadcast television stations, cable television systems with 800,000 subscribers, a number of programming networks for multi-channel delivery systems and significant positions in other programming, interactive and multimedia ventures. He served concurrently as Chief Executive Officer of King Holdings, an owner and manager of broadcast and cable television properties, a subsidiary of the Providence Journal Company.
From 1975 until 1988, Mr. Myhren was employed in Denver by American Television and Communications Corporation (ATC), the cable television subsidiary of Time, Inc. (now Time Warner Cable), where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from 1981-1988. During this period, ATC revenues increased from $60 million to $1.5 billion, employment exceeded 10,000 and, during 1986, the company successfully conducted that year’s largest initial public offering.
Myhren served as Chairman of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) in 1986 and 1987 and on its executive committee from 1981-1991. He is a Cable Pioneer and a member of the Cable Television Hall of Fame. He received the cable industry’s premier achievement award, the Distinguished Vanguard Leadership Award, in 1988. Myhren also co-founded CTAM, the industry’s marketing and programming organization, served as its President in 1978 and 1979 and received its Grand Tam Award (1986) and One-of-a-Kind Award (1994). Mr. Myhren organized the first serious link between the advertising industry and cable and he co-founded six cable networks, with Food Network and Northwest Cable News being the most recent.
Myhren served on the board of the non-sectarian National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (Denver, CO) from which he received the 1996 Humanitarian Award for Southeastern New England. In 2010, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Jewish Committee. Myhren has an undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy from Dartmouth and an M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck Graduate School at Dartmouth. He served three and a half years as a naval officer with the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Chairman of the Board
President & CEO
Scripps Networks Interactive
Ken Lowe is Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive, a leading global lifestyle content company. Previously, he was President and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company from 2000 until 2008, when Scripps Networks Interactive became a separate, publicly traded company.
Prior to 2000, Lowe was Chairman and CEO of Knoxville-based Scripps Networks. He built the company into one of the world's fastest growing and most successful creators of unique brands for television and the Internet. He founded and launched HGTV in 1994; oversaw the acquisition and transformation of the Food Network into an American pop culture icon; presided over the launches of DIY Network and Cooking Channel, as well as the acquisitions of Travel Channel in 2009 and Great American Country in 2004. He has directed the company’s rapid expansion as a global media company, including the 2015 acquisition of Poland’s premier media company, TVN.
Lowe joined Scripps in 1980 as General Manager of the company's radio properties. In 1988, he became Vice President of Programming, Promotion and Marketing for the company's nine network-affiliated television stations.
He began his career in radio with Southern Broadcasting in 1969 and continued with various management positions with Harte-Hanks Broadcasting in the late 1970s.
Lowe serves on the board of directors for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Paley Center for Media and The Cable Center. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
President & CEO
Jana Henthorn, ceo of The Cable Center introduces Phil Mckinney. Intrapreneurship Academy keynote Speech.
Phil McKinney is the president and CEO at CableLabs, a non-profit research & development lab funded by the global cable industry. With a strong focus on innovation, McKinney is responsible for leading the development of technologies and specifications for the secure delivery of high speed data, video, voice and next generation services. He oversees testing, certification facilities and guides the technical leadership for the industry, charting the course for future technology and innovation.
Prior to CableLabs, McKinney held technology and innovation leadership positions in major companies including serving as the vice president and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group, where he was responsible for long-range strategic planning, research and development for the company’s PC product lines. In addition, he was the founder and leader of HP’s Innovation Program Office (IPO). The IPO was chartered to identify, incubate and launch adjacent and fundamentally new technologies, products and services that would become the future growth engines for HP. The success of the IPO is now shared in widely used case studies at Stanford University and Harvard Business School. McKinney also served as senior vice president and CIO at Teligent, and as a director at CSC.
Author, speaker and innovation guru, McKinney shares his rule-breaking approach to innovation and creativity in his book “Beyond the Obvious.” He has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that Fast Company and BusinessWeek have listed as being one of the “50 Most Innovative.” His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him the “The Innovation Guru,” MSNBC and Fox Business calling him “The Gadget Guy” and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the “chief seer.” In July 2015, his podcast, Killer Innovations™, became a nationally syndicated radio show that is carried by more than 30 radio stations across the U.S. In 2017, The Cable Center named McKinney an Innovation Laureate, in recognition of his role as a trailblazer and key influencer who is mentoring, teaching and motivating the next generation of cable industry leaders.
McKinney serves on the advisory board for Hacking Autism and he is chairman of the board for Pioneer Education Africa. In his spare time, he oversees his family VC fund, the Techtrend Group, that invests in for-profit start-ups to create economic growth as an alternative to traditional charity models.
President & CEO
One of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and visionary executives, Josh Sapan sets strategy and is responsible for the overall management of AMC Networks, which owns and operates the following businesses: several leading entertainment brands including popular and award-winning national cable television networks AMC, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, and BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Worldwide); feature film label IFC Films and Sundance Selects; and AMC Networks International, the company’s international programming and distribution division.
Named CEO in 1995, Sapan led the company’s successful spin-off from Cablevision Systems Corporation in June 2011, when AMC Networks began trading as a separate public company on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Lauded by Fast Company magazine as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” Sapan’s record of delivering must-have content to passionate audiences, coupled with his championing of breakthrough distribution models, has transformed cable television and has changed the way people watch TV.
The recipient of the Paley Prize for Innovation and Excellence, Sapan is credited with building some of television’s most influential entertainment brands and shows that are at the center of what’s been widely referred to as a new “Golden Age” of television; shows including: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Preacher,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Better Call Saul;” SundanceTV’s “Rectify” and “The Honorable Woman;” and IFC’s “Portlandia.” Vanity Fair has recognized him in its New Establishment Issue and as one of the “Impresarios of Cable’s Golden Age.”
In addition to spearheading AMC’s evolution from a classic movie channel into one of the most acclaimed and successful television networks, Sapan has developed IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv into offerings with groundbreaking content for targeted audiences. IFC has become a home for original comedies and leading comedic talent, including its series hit“ Portlandia” – winner of Emmy®, Peabody, and Writer’s Guild Awards – and projects from Seth Meyers (“Documentary Now!”) and Hank Azaria (“Brockmire”); WE tv has emerged as a leading unscripted destination with hit shows “Braxton Family Values” and the “Marriage Boot Camp” franchise; and SundanceTV, following its acquisition by the company in 2008, has transformed into a home for original programming including the Golden Globe® Award-winning miniseries “Carlos” and “The Honorable Woman;” acclaimed scripted drama “Rectify;” the Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning miniseries “Top of the Lake.”
Sapan has been instrumental in bringing independent film to wide audiences through award-winning film distribution and production labels IFC Films, Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight. Recent IFC Films’ successes include the critically-acclaimed Boyhood, winner of the Oscar® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and winner of the Golden Globe Award® for Best Feature Film, both firsts for the company; Weiner, the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winning documentary; as well as the Oscar®-nominated 45 Years. Other notable releases include Sundance Selects’ Palme d’Or winning Dheepan and I, Daniel Blake and IFC Midnight’s critical and cultural hit The Babadook. In addition, Sapan opened New York City’s IFC Center in 2005, the brick-and-mortar home for the brand and home to DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the United States. He also pioneered the strategy of same-day theatrical and video-on-demand release which has fundamentally altered how independent films are distributed and is a model that is now widely used throughout the movie industry.
Earlier in his career Sapan spearheaded the development of the Bravo network. Launched in 1980, the network made arts and culture an essential part of the television landscape. Sapan’s oversight of Bravo’s growth included the creation of notable and culturally impactful programs including “Inside the Actors Studio” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The network was sold to NBC in 2002.
Inducted into the Cable Center Hall of Fame, the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, and the Cable TV Pioneers, Sapan has been recognized with a wide range of honors including NATPE’s Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, the Paley Prize for Innovation and Excellence, and, for his contributions to the advancement and protection of free speech, The Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award. Sapan has received an unprecedented three Vanguard Awards from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s (NCTA), for Programmers, Marketing, and the Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership. He has also received CTAM’s Grand TAM Award and Chairman’s Award; the Association of Cable Communicators’ (ACC) President’s Award; a PROMAX Brand Builder Award; the T. Howard Foundation’s Executive Leadership Award among many others.
Sapan serves on numerous boards, including the American Film Institute, The Paley Center for Media, The Cable Center, the Museum of the Moving Image, People for the American Way and WNYC Radio. On May 27, 2015, Sapan resigned from the Board of Directors of The New School University.
Sapan is the author of “The Big Picture: America in Panorama” (Princeton Architectural Press), a collection of panoramic photos from the 20th century, with an introduction by writer and critic Luc Sante and captions from celebrated public figures including Yogi Berra, Arianna Huffington, Bob Kerrey, Anna Quindlen and Martha Stewart.
He is a published poet, and also has the world’s largest collection of antique lightning rods, a selection of which is currently on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.