Hearst Assembles Digital Posse

kliavkoffHearst today named George Kliavkoff executive VP and deputy group head of its entertainment and syndication division. A familiar NewTeeVee character, Kliavkoff was chief digital officer at NBC Universal (s GE) (and for some of that the interim CEO of Hulu) until he left in November, saying his work there was done and he wanted to “start, run or invest” in an online business.

Kliavkoff told MediaMemo that he might be interested in some well-priced M&A of digital media properties in his new role.

Kliavkoff joins a newly formed team of digital veterans at Hearst, which is clearly reshuffling to better address online opportunities. Hearst CEO Frank A. Bennack, Jr. used “the critical importance of the digital transformation of all Hearst businesses” as explanation in this morning’s announcement. The entertainment and syndication division includes all of Hearst’s cable TV stakes at ESPN, Lifetime, A&E and History, as well as TV production and other departments.

Last month, Hearst hired Neeraj Khemlani away from Yaho (s YHOO). Khemlani, as general manager for Yahoo News and Originals, was behind all those “new” Yahoo content initiatives highlighted in the New York Times today. A former 60 Minutes producer, Khemlani is now VP and special assistant to the CEO for digital media, and “responsible for promoting and coordinating digital content transformation across the Company.”

And the new boss of this Hearst entertainment and syndication group was only announced in December. Guess who it is? Another guy coming from the web world. Scott Sassa replaced the retiring Bruce L. Paisner at Hearst. Sassa’s web creds are actually less impressive than Kliavkoff and Khemlani. He was most recently at Uber, a DIY web site/scrapbook startup that shut down after investors pulled out. He also served a stint as CEO of Friendster. Before that, he was in the media biz as an entertainment exec for NBC.

These guys are certainly getting more corporate support than our local Hearst-owned paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to teach this old media co new tricks.