HGTV president to head new partnership with Chip & Joanna Gaines

Allison Page has stepped down as president of HGTV to become president of a new Discovery Communications joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Page, a former executive for Scripps Networks Interactive, took over as HGTV president in April 2018 as part of a major reshuffle when Maryland-based Discovery bought Knoxville-based Scripps.

She will be replaced at HGTV by Jane Latman, general manager of the Travel Channel, according to a news release.

Discovery announced this month it will launch a joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines in summer 2020, rebranding Discovery’s DIY Network as some variant of the Gaines’ home and lifestyle brand Magnolia. The DIY Network reaches 52 million U.S. homes, according to Discovery.

Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Chip and Joanna Gaines parleyed their home-renovation business into a major brand through the HGTV series “Fixer Upper,” which ran from May 2013 to April 2018.

"What they do and know and love certainly incorporates home and design and construction, but that’s just a piece of it," Page told USA TODAY. "We’ll have stories about family and community, food, garden, of course design, wellness, entrepreneurialism. There are so many facets, at least in television, that people have not seen from them."

According to Page’s biography on Discovery’s website, she “played a critical role in developing Discovery’s pending partnership with the Chip and Joanna Gaines.

The couple is expected to star in a new signature show in the channel, which will also host the complete library of “Fixer Upper.” They had multiple offers, but agreed to join Discovery after a personal visit from President and CEO David Zaslav, they told USA TODAY.

“When you combine the power and reach of Discovery with Chip and Joanna’s creative vision, the possibilities are endless,” Page said in a news release. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work in this role to help create unique, inspiring and family-friendly content, and I can’t wait to see where this new platform takes us as we super-serve and inspire fans all over the world.”

The new TV network and TV Everywhere app will launch in summer 2020, with a subscription streaming service coming later. Chip and Joanna Gaines will serve as chief creative officers.

“Our intention with this network is to create and curate content that inspires, encourages, and helps to build bridges across our communities. We want honest, authentic programming that brings families together,” Chip and Joanna Gaines said in a joint statement. “We believe David Zaslav and the team at Discovery are the perfect partners for this ambitious joint venture, and we know Allison Page is the right person to lead this charge. We’re ready to get started and are expectant for all that’s ahead.”

Page will manage teams in Knoxville and Waco, Texas. She will report to Zaslav.

“Allison is a singular talent, a fantastic leader with an eye for developing hosts, formats and creative teams,” Zaslav said in the announcement. “She has been responsible for so much of the success across HGTV and Food Network in recent years and is the perfect choice to lead this important new venture.”

Under Scripps, Page was general manager of U.S. programming and development for HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country brands. Prior to that she was senior vice president of programming and development for Food Network and Cooking Channel. She came to the Food Network in 2001 from CBS News Sunday Morning, where she was an associate producer.

Discovery bought Scripps for $14.6 billion in cash and stock, including assumption of Scripps’ $2.7 billion debt. The deal was announced in August 2017 and closed in March 2018.

Scripps employed about 1,000 people in Knoxville. Since its takeover, Discovery has given notice of at least three rounds of layoffs, affecting an unspecified number of employees.

Kristin Alm, Discovery senior director of corporate communications, said the local job losses will ultimately be “headcount neutral” for Knoxville, as Discovery closes most of its Maryland headquarters and shifts some of those jobs to Knoxville.

Executives were also reshuffled, largely moving Discovery executives in to control former Scripps functions. Some Scripps executives were ousted, but others — including Page — took on new roles with Discovery.

Latman is one of the Discovery executives moving from Silver Spring, Maryland, but she will move to New York City instead of Knoxville, according to Discovery. She has been with Discovery since 2003.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Jim Gaines

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Published April 26, 2019