May 28, 2022

The Fourthny

Art is beauty

Nickolas Davatzes, Force Behind A&E and the History Channel, Dies at 79

4 min read

Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in developing the cable tv networks A&E and the History Channel, which now reach into 335 million homes all-around the earth, died on Aug. 21 at his dwelling in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.

The induce was issues of Parkinson’s disorder, his son George reported.

Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief government of A&E, at first the Arts & Enjoyment Community, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint enterprise of the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Television Group. He introduced the Heritage Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and public affairs programming, endorsing it within just the industry and in appearances just before Congress.

By the mid-1980s A&E experienced emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable provider, mainly by purchasing programming and making a bankable audience by negotiating distribution rights with area cable systems.

“After 60 times listed here, I explained to my spouse I didn’t think this detail had a 20 per cent likelihood, mainly because every single time I turned close to there was an additional obstacle,” Mr. Davatzes informed The New York Instances in 1989. “I employed to say that we were like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”

But they did. A&E grew to become profitable inside three several years by giving an eclectic menu of day by day programming that, as The Times set it, “might include things like a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a system about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie limited story and a convert from the stand-up comic Buzz Belmondo.”

“We really do not want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes advised The Instances in 1985. “There is a young generation that has under no circumstances viewed any imagined-provoking amusement on television. They’ve found a rock star destroying a guitar every 16 minutes, but they’ve by no means observed classical music.

“By network expectations,” he ongoing, “our viewership will usually be confined. But that is the purpose of cable — to present enough alternate options so that folks can be their individual programmers.”

Under the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a wide mix of leisure and nonfiction programming. It produced a singular id with scripted reveals (“100 Centre Street,” “A Nero Wolfe Secret”) and collaborations, like its wildly preferred co-creation with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-sequence based mostly on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

The community ongoing to expand its scope to incorporate documentary collection like “Biography” “Hoarders,” which may be classified as an anthropological study of compulsive stockpiling and the History Channel’s encyclopedic scrutiny of Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Davatzes was awarded the Countrywide Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French federal government produced him a chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame in 1999.

Just after his dying, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the govt vice chairman of Hearst, referred to as him “the father of the Record Channel.”

Nickolas Davatzes was born on March 14, 1942, in Manhattan to George Davatzes, a Greek immigrant, and Alexandra (Kordes) Davatzes, whose parents have been from Greece. The two his parents labored in the fur trade.

Immediately after graduating from Bryant Substantial University in Astoria, Queens, he gained a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, the two from St. John’s University, in which he satisfied his upcoming wife, Dorothea Hayes.

In addition to his son George, he is survived by his wife yet another son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and four grandchildren. A different son, Christopher, died ahead of him.

After serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to data technology at Intext Communications Programs in 1978. A close friend released him to an govt at the fledgling Warner Amex cable enterprise, who recruited him about lunch and had him signal a agreement drawn on a restaurant napkin. He went to perform there in 1980, together with cable tv pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.

The Arts & Amusement Network took shape in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes helped place the ending touches on a merger amongst two battling cable devices: the Amusement Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller household, and the ARTS Network, owned by Hearst and ABC.

His system in the commencing was twofold: to aim on generating the community more available to viewers, and not to be diverted by manufacturing first systems, in its place concentrating on getting existing kinds.

“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 % of each new exhibit that goes on the air generally fails,” Mr. Davatzes stated in a 2001 job interview with The Cable Middle, an educational arm of the cable field.

“Our all round technique is to develop a sane financial design,” he said in 1985. “I like to convey to people doing the job for us that we do not consume at ‘21.’”

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