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Jim Samples2
Jim Samples
Age: 51
Occupation: General Manager and Senior Vice President of Cartoon Network Latin America (2000—2001)
General Manager and Senior Vice President of TNT Latin America (2000—2001)
Designer and general manager of CN Online (1998—2001)
General manager and Executive Vice President of Cartoon Network Worldwide (2001—2007)
President of HGTV (2007—2011)
President of Scripps' International Division (2007—present)
Preceded by: Betty Cohen
Suceded by: Stuart Snyder

James "Jim" Samples (born 1963) is an American media mogul and businessman. As a businessman, he was known as the general manager and Executive Vice President of Cartoon Network from 2001 to 2007. The eras under him were Powerhouse (2001–2004), CN City (2004–2007), and Yes! (2006–2007). Under Samples, many different changes occurred at CN, such as the creation of Miguzi and Adult Swim, the last years of the Cartoon Cartoons, the introductions of several new Cartoon Network Original Series, and the (controversial) pushing of live-action programming on the network.

After Samples's resignation following the 2007 Boston Bomb scare, Stuart Snyder took over his position as being in charge of the network. Samples then went on to work at HGTV, and later Scripps International Division.

Biography

Samples grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. As a child, he often accompanied his electrician father on jobs and learned how to master home repairs and upgrades. He "hated it as a kid," but came to "really appreciate it later as an adult." "I can wire a house, plumb a house, things like that," he added.[1]

In 1982, Samples attended Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, where he was an undergraduate biology major in the school's pre-med program. There, he volunteered for a summer work program in Honduras. "My grandfather lived in Colombia at the time," he said. "I think that was maybe part of the interest. All the Central America war conflict was going on and I wanted to volunteer in the refugee camps. I was probably a little nuts but I was very committed. I was opposed to our involvement there and wanted to go down to help. But just before I left, the volunteer program I was going to go with stopped accepting college students because it had become too dangerous. They had another opportunity in Brazil. I didn't speak Portuguese but the languages are pretty close. I ended up going to a small town in central Brazil for three months where nobody spoke English, so I got a total immersion. Then I came back and studied Portuguese." He met his future wife, Margaret, during the first day of classes.[1]

After deciding that medicine "wasn't his passion," Samples went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina at Columbia and studied international business. Upon graduating he worked in international banking for a few years, traveling to South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. When the bank he was with announced that it was going to be involved in funding the Olympics, Samples was assigned to work with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, structuring broadcast contracts for the Atlanta Games. "That was my introduction to the entertainment business," he recalled. "I loved it."[1]

After leaving graduate school, Samples married Margaret and purchased a house in Grant Park, Atlanta. According to him, it was "The only house we could really afford that we liked [...] You could literally see through the walls from the inside to the outside without looking through a window. We renovated the house during the first three years of our marriage." Samples jokingly described thi as "the best test of a marriage," adding: "Everybody should [renovate] when they are going to get married, because if you make it through that you're going to make it!"[1]

For the next few years, Samples and his wife worked on more homes and home renovation projects (five in total) in the Atlanta area. Aside from this, he spent many years traveling to and working in other countries, indulging in a passion for travel that he had since childhood. Samples also learned Spanish as a child and was "fascinated" by it. "I loved the language, the music, everything about the culture," he explained. His mother's father, an engineer who worked in other countries, also influenced Samples' interest in foreign lands. "My grandfather was an engineer," he said. "He lived in many places around the world. I always admired the man. As I was growing up he was never in Georgia, but he'd come home for a few weeks in the summer. Before I was born he lived in Iran and Lebanon. He was always working on big projects."[1]

Business career

Turner Entertainment

Samples came to Turner Entertainment in 1994, working in international business development. He was promoted to head of Turner International Argentina that year, serving as such until 1999. "I did affiliate sales and marketing," he noted. "You're kind of the regional representative so you end up doing all sorts of things. My favorite part of the job always was the marketing." Since it was all affiliate marketing, "going in and working with cable operators," Samples ended up as an event marketer for Cartoon Network and CNN.

Cartoon Network

Jim Samples
Samples in 2006, at the premiere of Class of 3000.
NotshaneAdded by Notshane

Upon returning to Atlanta in 2000, Samples became Senior Vice President and general manager of TNT and Cartoon Network Latin America, serving as such until 2001. This led to him becoming the general manager of cartoonnetwork.com in March of that year, a job that "appealed to Samples' inner technophile."

On August 22, 2001, Samples was appointed general manager and Executive Vice President of Cartoon Network, replacing former president Betty Cohen, who had left due to creative disagreements with Jamie Kellner (the head of Turner Entertainment at the time). Shortly thereafter, he created the Adult Swim block.

On June 14, 2004, a new era of CN started called CN City, replacing Powerhouse. It combined several of Cartoon Network's former and current shows and placed them into one big city, using little parts of other shows' place and putting them in the city.

On April 3, 2006, a new era began called "Yes!", and it became the primary "look" of the network on April 10. It featured Fred Fredburger and Cheese as the spokespersons. CN City bumpers were still being shown during this era, though not as much as the "Yes!" ones. This era ended on June 3, 2007.

That's why he is fond of saying that, since arriving at HGTV in September, 2007, "I'm now doing during the week what we spent all our time on the weekends doing." Currently commuting between Knoxville, where Scripps Networks is based, and Atlanta, where Margaret and their two daughters still reside, Samples said once his family joins him full time they will eventually seek out another home and give it their personal touch.

Live-action programming

Contrary to popular belief, it was Samples, not Stuart Snyder who introduced live-action programming to CN. In November 2005, Cartoon Network began airing live-action films for the first time in their history. Some of these films, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Osmosis Jones, and The Pagemaster, combined 2D animation and live actors, while others, such as The Goonies, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Batman, and Men In Black, were fully live-action but "cartoony" in tone.

Zixx, a Canadian live-action series with CGI-elements, briefly aired on Saturday mornings beginning on January 21, 2006. In April, teen sitcom Saved by the Bell aired on Adult Swim for two weeks. During the weeks of the airings, the 1980s Saturday morning program Pee-wee's Playhouse began airing Mondays-Thursdays on July 10, 2006.

On December 8, 2006, Cartoon Network produced their first live-action television movie called Re-Animated, a collaboration between both live-action and animation. When asked about the project, Cartoon Network executive Michael Ouweleen (co-creator of Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law) stated: "[E]ven though we are featuring live-action characters, it still had to be done the Cartoon Network way."[2] In 2007, once Stuart Snyder had taken over, the film was spun-off into its own half-hour series entitled Out of Jimmy's Head, which continues the events of the film.

Shortly before Samples resigned, shows that were either fully live-action or a combination between live-action and animation were in the pipeline. When asked about the shows, Samples responded “Most of the stuff coming through the pipeline is animation. But you shouldn't be surprised to see more live-action programming, but we're predominately an animated network and that's not changing anytime soon.”[3] None of these shows saw the light of day, thanks to the 2007-2008 Writer's Guild strike.

2007 Boston Bomb scare

On February 9, 2007, Samples resigned from Cartoon Network, following a bomb scare in Boston caused by packages left around the city that were part of an outdoor marketing campaign promoting the Adult Swim series Aqua Teen Hunger Force.[4][5][6] Following Samples's resignation, Stuart Snyder was named his successor.[7] Snyder has successfully killed Cartoon Network, according to many of its fans.

Looking back, Samples said, "It was an out of body experience. I can't describe it. When people ask me about it, my take-away from it is that it was a huge reminder that when you are in a situation where you are managing a large group of people in a large organization, the things that you do you're often touching in a very superficial way. But you're responsible for everything anyway; that just kind of goes with the territory.

"What happened there was extreme in my case in terms of the consequences but it's something that all of us in media are faced with, the potential that [such things] can happen," he continued. "I wish it had never happened. It was traumatic. It was the most intense couple of weeks of my life. But I'm very happy with where I am career wise after that. Maybe I was the unluckiest guy in the world that day. Now I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I think about that year as being the best and worst year of my life."Jim Samples, Camino de Santiago

Following that crisis, Samples decided to take a year off and indulge his longtime dream of hiking through Europe. "I went around and talked to a lot of friends in the industry and told them I was going to take some time off, that I was not falling off the face of the earth. I hiked in Europe for about three months over the summer. Alone. I hiked from a place near Arles in France to the western coast of Spain. I followed the Camino de Santiago. It's an ancient European pilgrimage route that's a little over 1000 miles. Originally people walked it for religious reasons. It takes you over some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe. All along the route there are places set up for people to stay. They're like guest houses. A lot of them are in historic buildings. I stayed in an old English prison tower, in an abbey, in farmhouses. There were days when I would walk six or eight hours alone through the woods or fields. That is one of the most relaxing, centering experiences that a person can have.

"Of the bad things that happened to me, this was the unexpected flip side gift of it," Samples said. "Fortunately, I had the support of my wife. It was rough for my family. It was rough for me, too, because I missed them a lot. But I blogged about it the whole time I was gone, posted pictures every time I got to a village that was big enough to have an Internet cafe or something. I had a cell phone with me and we spoke every day. Europe has outstanding cell coverage." His family met him at the end and they spent three weeks together.

HGTV

During his journey Samples also spoke with Scripps Networks President John Lansing and Executive Vice President Burton Jablin and outgoing HGTV President Judy Girard every three or four weeks. "I met them before I left," he recalled. "Frankly, it was the only job interview that I went on. They continued their search, but we had a great meeting in New York just before my trip and we stayed in touch over the summer. Burton had done a long hike, too. We had that in common." Samples started at HGTV shortly after his return from Europe.

"There is probably not a more perfect job for me in the industry," Samples smiled. "I said at the upfront, when I was at Cartoon Network I was a rock star among my kids' friends. Now that I'm at HGTV I'm a rock star among my wife's friends."

Scripps

In 2011, Samples resigned from HGTV and moved up to being President of Scripps' international division. Scripps is known for running channels such as HGTV, Food Network, GAC, and much more.

References

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