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

Gwen Catherine

Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in generating the cable television networks A&E and the Historical past Channel, which now access into 335 million homes all around the world, died on Aug. 21 at his house in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.

The result in was difficulties of Parkinson’s condition, his son George said.

Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and main government of A&E, originally the Arts & Entertainment Community, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint enterprise of the Hearst Company and the Disney-ABC Television Group. He launched the Historical past Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and general public affairs programming, advertising it within the field and in appearances just before Congress.

By the mid-1980s A&E experienced emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable provider, largely by purchasing programming and building a bankable viewers by negotiating distribution legal rights with community cable methods.

“After 60 times below, I explained to my wife I did not think this matter had a 20 p.c opportunity, since each individual time I turned all over there was yet another obstacle,” Mr. Davatzes told The New York Periods in 1989. “I applied to say that we were being like a bumblebee — we weren’t meant to fly.”

But they did. A&E turned successful within three yrs by providing an eclectic menu of everyday programming that, as The Times set it, “might involve a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a system about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie brief tale and a change from the stand-up comic Buzz Belmondo.”

“We really don’t want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes told The Situations in 1985. “There is a younger technology that has never observed any assumed-provoking enjoyment on tv. They’ve viewed a rock star destroying a guitar each individual 16 minutes, but they’ve never found classical audio.

“By community specifications,” he continued, “our viewership will often be minimal. But that is the operate of cable — to existing ample alternate options so that persons can be their very own programmers.”

Less than the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a wide mix of amusement and nonfiction programming. It designed a singular identity with scripted exhibits (“100 Centre Street,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly common co-production with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-series primarily based on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

The community ongoing to increase its scope to involve documentary collection like “Biography” “Hoarders,” which could be categorised as an anthropological research of compulsive stockpiling and the Background Channel’s encyclopedic scrutiny of Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Davatzes was awarded the Nationwide Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French government made him a chevalier of the Purchase of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1999.

Following his loss of life, 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 were being from Greece. The two his moms and dads labored in the fur trade.

Soon after graduating from Bryant Large School in Astoria, Queens, he attained a bachelor’s diploma in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, both from St. John’s University, in which he achieved 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.

Following serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to information engineering at Intext Communications Devices in 1978. A mate introduced him to an government at the fledgling Warner Amex cable corporation, who recruited him over lunch and had him sign a agreement drawn on a cafe napkin. He went to do the job there in 1980, together with cable tv pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.

The Arts & Leisure Community took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes served place the finishing touches on a merger involving two battling cable programs: the Amusement Network, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller spouse and children, and the ARTS Network, owned by Hearst and ABC.

His approach in the commencing was twofold: to emphasis on producing the network much more out there to viewers, and not to be diverted by making primary applications, instead focusing on getting present types.

“If you are in programming, we know that 85 p.c of every single new display that goes on the air generally fails,” Mr. Davatzes explained in a 2001 interview with The Cable Heart, an academic arm of the cable marketplace.

“Our overall solution is to create a sane financial design,” he said in 1985. “I like to convey to persons operating for us that we really don’t take in at ‘21.’”

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