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

ByKristen Amber

Apr 15, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

The cause was issues of Parkinson’s disorder, his son George reported.

Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief government of A&E, at first the Arts & Amusement Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint undertaking of the Hearst Company and the Disney-ABC Television Team. He released the History Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and public affairs programming, promoting it inside of the marketplace and in appearances before Congress.

By the mid-1980s A&E experienced emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable assistance, mainly by getting programming and making a bankable audience by negotiating distribution rights with community cable systems.

“After 60 days in this article, I informed my spouse I did not think this detail experienced a 20 percent probability, simply because every single time I turned about there was a different obstacle,” Mr. Davatzes instructed The New York Situations in 1989. “I applied to say that we have been like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”

But they did. A&E grew to become profitable in just a few years by supplying an eclectic menu of everyday programming that, as The Occasions place it, “might consist of a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a method about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie quick tale and a change from the stand-up comic Excitement Belmondo.”

“We do not want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes told The Periods in 1985. “There is a more youthful generation that has under no circumstances found any thought-provoking leisure on television. They’ve observed a rock star destroying a guitar every 16 minutes, but they’ve never viewed classical audio.

“By community benchmarks,” he ongoing, “our viewership will often be constrained. But that is the operate of cable — to present more than enough alternatives so that individuals can be their individual programmers.”

Beneath the A&E umbrella, the network encompassed a broad combine of amusement and nonfiction programming. It created a singular identity with scripted reveals (“100 Centre Road,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly common co-creation with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-series based mostly on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

The community ongoing to extend its scope to incorporate documentary sequence like “Biography” “Hoarders,” which could possibly be labeled as an anthropological analyze of compulsive stockpiling and the Record Channel’s encyclopedic scrutiny of Adolf Hitler.

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

Right after his dying, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the executive vice chairman of Hearst, called him “the father of the Historical past Channel.”

Nickolas Davatzes was born on March 14, 1942, in Manhattan to George Davatzes, a Greek immigrant, and Alexandra (Kordes) Davatzes, whose mom and dad were from Greece. Each his moms and dads worked in the fur trade.

Soon after graduating from Bryant Substantial University in Astoria, Queens, he attained a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, equally 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 a further son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and 4 grandchildren. A different son, Christopher, died prior to him.

Following serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to information technological innovation at Intext Communications Units in 1978. A buddy launched him to an government at the fledgling Warner Amex cable firm, who recruited him about lunch and experienced him signal a agreement drawn on a cafe serviette. He went to get the job done there in 1980, together with cable television pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.

The Arts & Amusement Community took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes assisted set the ending touches on a merger among two having difficulties cable techniques: the Entertainment Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller family, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.

His strategy in the beginning was twofold: to focus on earning the network a lot more readily available to viewers, and not to be diverted by creating unique packages, alternatively concentrating on getting current types.

“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 percent of every new display that goes on the air normally fails,” Mr. Davatzes mentioned in a 2001 interview with The Cable Center, an instructional arm of the cable field.

“Our total solution is to develop a sane economic design,” he reported in 1985. “I like to notify folks performing for us that we really do not try to eat at ‘21.’”