Dennis Johnson, a TV programming exec and producer who was among the first African-Americans to rise through the Big Three network ranks, died Dec. 23 while on vacation in St. Barts. He was 68.
A Virginia native and graduate of Temple U., Johnson had a nearly 20-year run at Showtime. He got his start as an NBC page working on “The Tonight Show” in 1969. He advanced through several posts in the Peacock’s comedy development department before moving to ABC as VP of programming in 1975.
In 1978, Johnson joined the Osmond family’s production shingle, Osmond Television. He held a variety of posts there and at other production companies until he joined Showtime in 1984 as director of current programming for the pay cabler and its Movie Channel sibling.
While at Showtime, he established a program for black filmmakers and served as president of the National Assn. of Minorities in Cable. He rose to senior VP of programming during his long run at the cabler, which ended in 2002.
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