El Rey Network announced that Scott Sassa will be its new Vice Chairman. El Rey is being jointly launched by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures. Antoinette Alfonso Zel, a marketing and branding executive from one of the most highly awarded advertising agencies in the country, will now step into the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer of El Rey. The network will launch in December 2013 and have nation-wide carriage via Comcast.
Sassa has one of the most successful leadership track records in television, having most recently served as President of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, the operating group responsible for Hearst Corporation's interests in leading cable TV properties including ESPN, Lifetime, A&E and History, as well as Mark Burnett Productions.
Sassa also served as President, NBC West Coast, from 1999-2002, overseeing the entertainment business for NBC and growing it to the No. 1 network ranking. Prior to joining NBC in 1997, Sassa served as President of the Turner Entertainment Group, launching TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies during his tenure. Earlier in his career, he was on the team that launched the Fox Broadcasting Company, serving as Vice President of Network Management.
"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," said Rodriguez. "We are thrilled to bring him on board to make the El Rey Network what we've always envisioned it to be."
"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," Sassa said. "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."
Added FactoryMade's founders, CEO John Fogelman and co-CEO Cristina Patwa: "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").