The Passing of Jamie Kellner

Published on 24 June 2024 at 00:25

With being a talking point towards the final days of World Championship Wrestling, I would be remiss had I not mentioned the passing of former AOL Time Warner executive Jamie Kellner from cancer at the age of 77.


For all die-hard wrestling fans, Mr. Kellner’s name was synonymous with the final days of WCW on the Turner Networks. On March 16, 2001, Kellner canceled Nitro and Thunder off TNT and TBS, with the final episode of the promotion airing on March 26, 2001 from Panama City Beach, FL.


This move single handedly changed the wrestling industry as we knew it. Had programming not been canceled, WCW would have been owned by Fusient Media Ventures, and this link would have been the online home to the first pay-per-view run by Eric Bischoff.


However, due to a stalemate in negotiating, which Mr. Kellner, as per the Guy Evans’ Nitro book in 2018, claimed was around the ownership of the prime-time slots on TBS and TNT, WCW programming was no more, and the World Wrestling Federation swooped in for 24 contracts, several trademarks and assets, and the vaunted tape library.


Although wrestling fans only know Mr. Kellner for his actions towards WCW in 2001, his vast television career was truly remarkable.


Initially working for Orion Entertainment Group, an entertainment and syndication group, Kellner’s hard work got the attention of media proprietor Rupert Murdoch and former Paramount chairman Barry Diller, who tabbed him to be the chairman of the fledgling FOX Network in 1986.


Kellner’s vision helped make FOX into a legitimate fourth national network, along with ABC, NBC, and CBS. During Kellner’s seven-year run, FOX launched Married…With Children, The Simpsons, and Beverly Hills, 90210. Kellner also helped negotiate the NFL away from CBS in 1994, shocking the media world.


After leaving FOX in 1993, Kellner was on the ground level of the WB Network in 1994, which became the launching pad for urban and young adult programming, including The Jamie Foxx Show, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, One Tree Hill, and Supernatural.


For me personally, the success of Kevin Williamson’s Dawson’s Creek, one of my all-time favorite television shows, helped propel the WB into a true fifth national network by the end of the 1990s.


After three years at AOL Time Warner, Kellner stepped away in 2004 at the age of 57.  According to others, he was loyal to his staff and team and a pleasure to work with.


For those that think that Mr. Kellner was just the guy who canned Nitro and Thunder, take a deeper look. His career is unmatched, and his legacy is deeper than anyone can imagine. His legacy was unmatched in television. Rest in Peace, Mr. Kellner.


Bankie Bruce

Add comment


There are no comments yet.