Antoinette Alfonso Zel to Become CMO, as Fast-Growing Cable TV Network Continues to Build All-Star Management Team
Austin, TX — Former Hearst executive, Scott Sassa has landed back on his feet with a new gig at El Rey Network, a new general-enetertainment, English-language cable network launched by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and incubator FacoryMade Ventures. The network is set to launch in December and will have nationwide distribution via Comcast in January 2014.
As part of the arrangement, marketing executive Antoinette Alfonso Zel will step into the newly created role of chief marketing officer of El Rey. The news comes some three months after Reliance-backed Georgeville Television announced that it will co-produce scripted programming with the network through a three-year, six-series arrangement.
As for Sassa, he most recently was president of Hearst entertainment and syndication, where he was responsible for the company’s interests in cable properties including A&E, ESPN and History as well as The Bible producer Mark Burnett Productions. He abruptly was fired after executives at the famously conservative company became aware of an extortion plot involving a stripper with whom he was sexting. Not long after, the R-rated sexts surfaced on the Internet.
Before Hearst, Sassa was president of NBC West Coast from 1999 to 2002, at which time he oversaw the entertainment business for the broadcast network. Earlier in his career, he was president of the Turner Entertainment Group, where he helped launch TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies.
“Scott is a dynamic, seasoned leader in television who has produced results at every stop he’s made, and he’s an innovator who understands the digital future. We are thrilled to bring him on board to make the El Rey Network what we’ve always envisioned it to be,” said Rodriguez Monday.
Added Sassa: “Robert has a long history of attracting top creative talent to make cutting-edge entertainment. This will be key to how El Rey connects with this powerful young audience. Together with Robert, FactoryMade and Antoinette, I look forward to building El Rey into a fun, creative and entertaining force in the cable and digital landscapes.”
FactoryMade’s founders, CEO John Fogelman and co-CEO Cristina Patwa said, “Scott has such a unique combination of skill sets, and he has continuously proven that he’s adept at building a network’s distribution, advertising sales and operating infrastructure from the ground up. He is a veteran at leading entrepreneurial teams, and he has great creative instincts for working with Hollywood’s top talent.”
Joining the El Rey Network in August as its first hire, Zel has contributed over 20 years of television, marketing and media experience. She has worked with some of the industry’s most renowned networks and brands including NBC, MTV Networks, as well as various blue-chip clients while at her Latino-focused La Comunidad advertising agency. In addition to operating in the El Rey Network’s top marketing role, Zel will continue to oversee government relations for El Rey and be responsible for the network’s outreach efforts with key government and community leaders in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve long been impressed by what Scott has accomplished as a leader and as an entrepreneur, and I’m excited about what we can get done together,” Zel said. “Having already been on the ground floor of the movement that is rapidly becoming El Rey, there is no shortage of potential marketing and community initiatives we can employ on behalf of the brand.”
Sassa joins a fast-growing El Rey operation. In February, Reliance-backed Georgeville Television announced that it is co-producing scripted programming with the network via a significant three-year, six-series arrangement.
FactoryMade is an incubator that builds media and entertainment businesses with prominent Hollywood talent and strategic corporate partners. Fogelman and Patwa teamed with Rodriguez last year to form El Rey Network and the production company Tres Pistoleros (the three behind “Tres”).
A fifth-generation Mexican-American, Rodriguez is well known for his acclaimed two-decade filmmaking career. In 2011, his groundbreaking 1992 debut film, El Mariachi, was chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Film Registry. Since then, Rodriguez has led innovative technologies in production such as digital filmmaking, 3D production and shooting content entirely in green screens.