Wizard Entertainment founder and CEO Gareb Shamus has confirmed to ICv2 that associate publisher Rob Felton, who was promoted to that position in March of 2006, left the company on Monday. He will be 'replaced in some capacity,' according to Shamus. But Shamus denied that publisher Jim Silver, who was hired at the same time as Felton was elevated (see 'Wizard Brings in a Publisher'), and who'd also been reported to be leaving the company, was going anywhere. 'Jim's still with us;...his role is the same as it has been,' Shamus told us. 'Jim will continue to work with us.'
We asked Shamus whether the recent changes at IFL (his mixed martial arts venture, see 'Gareb Shamus Founds Mixed Martial Arts League'), where he recently stepped down as CEO, meant that there would be changes in his role at Wizard. 'I'll be involved in the same way as I've always been,' he said, indicating that he would continue to be active at IFL.
The IFL announced in late November that longtime Showtime executive Jay Larkin had been appointed CEO, replacing Shamus, after a brief stint as COO. While at Showtime, Larkin was responsible for many of the network's highly successful boxing events.
Asked about his experience at IFL, Shamus indicated that the audience response has been very positive, with the show averaging two to three million viewers a week during the season. But sponsors have not come forward to support the new league as rapidly as expected. 'Even though the sport is exploding in the 18 to 34 demographic, the sponsor community has take a little longer to get associated with the sport than I expected,' he said. 'There's a lot of baggage that went with the sport because of how it was handled years ago.'
Sounding almost nostalgic at times, Shamus said that the IFL reminded him of his early days in the comic industry. 'It's so much like the comic book industry 15 years ago,' he said. 'The talent is so approachable. They almost don't realize how much the world is paying attention to them.'