Leading producer and television executive in the US
Tony Thomopoulos, is a motion picture and television executive. For 12 years his career moved progressively from Vice President of Prime Time Programs, to President of ABC Entertainment, to President of ABC Broadcast Group.
He is the son of Greek immigrants, who came from the village Daemonia Lakonias, near Sparta, Greece. His father Denis and his mother Anna, moved to the States in the beginning of the 20th century, where Tony was born, along with his sister, Paraskevoula. Tony grew up in the Bronx, but was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church. After a high school aptitude test marked Thomopoulos as a potential diplomat, he applied to Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. But while at the Washington university, he got interested in business instead. His first job out of college was as a mail clerk at NBC’s New York headquarters. He rose rapidly from there into senior marketing jobs.
Thomopoulos’s first marriage ended in 1983 after 22 years, and produced three children. In 1985 he married television host Cristina Ferrare. They have two children, Arianna (born 1989) and Alexandra (born 1986). As of 2011 they lived in California.
Regarding his business career, his big break came in 1973, when Barry Diller hired him on at ABC to oversee prime-time programming. His areas of responsibility included overseeing the entire Broadcast Group, which was comprised of the ABC owned stations, the Television Network, the Radio Network, the Sports Division and the administrative responsibility for the News Division. He was noted, among other things, for the tough position he took in dealing with the contract holdout of Suzanne Somers on the hit ABC show Three’s Company, and for his quick cancellation of the 1982 cult favorite Police Squad!, explaining that the show had been cancelled because, among other reasons, “it required constant attention”. He was president of the entire broadcast group when he left the company in 1985 to become chairman of United Artists Pictures, where he supervised such productions as Betrayed, Baby Boom, and The Living Daylights. In 1989, Thomopoulos formed Thomopoulos Productions, an independent production company of both motion pictures and television programs.
From 1991 to 1995, he was President of Amblin Television, a division of Amblin Entertainment. He was responsible for the original placement of NBC’s highly acclaimed program ER, in addition to several other successful series on network television. In 1995, Thomopoulos joined International Family Entertainment, Inc. (IFE). His responsibilities included all aspects of programming for The Family Channel. He was named CEO of MTM Entertainment, Inc., a subsidiary of IFE, and was also responsible for all aspects of MTM Television and MTM Distribution. As a producer, Tony Thomopoulos is known for “Striking Distance” (1993), “The Annual Humanitarian of Year Honors Aaron Spelling” (1983) and “The USA Today’s 5th Anniversary Gala” (1987).
Thomopoulos was Chairman and CEO of artist Thomas Kinkade’s Media Arts Group from June 2001 to January 2004. He subsequently founded Morning Light Productions.