Donald Taffner, Jr.
Donald Taffner, Jr grew up in the television industry learning how to read a ratings book at the age of 9. But that should be no surprise given he is the son of Don Taffner, the Emmy award winning founder of DLT Entertainment Ltd.
While not playing soccer, Don was a math major in College but quickly switched to an international business major anticipating that is where the future of television was headed. After attending “graduate school” working in the DLT Entertainment mailroom, he lived in Dublin, Ireland for a year to set up Emerald City Productions, DLT Entertainment’s television animation studio.
Upon his return to America he founded a new sales division at DLT focusing exclusively on local public television stations. Within a year these sales to these stations, which normally amounted to $100,000 a year, were exceeding $1,000,000. He was instrumental; in the development of a yearly package of first run drama programs to the Program Resources Group, a group of PBS stations that overlap with the major PBS station in their market and have a unique need for first run programming. KAVANAGH QC, RUTH RENDELL MYSTERIES, TAGGART, and McCALLUM are a few of the shows sold to this group of stations as well as other PBS stations.
Today, DLT’s public television sales division is the leading independent supplier of programming to these stations featuring shows from Fremantle, ITV Global Entertainment and many other independent producers and distributors. A testament to this division’s success is the choice by stations of a package of DLT programs rather than a PBS package to fill the hole in the schedules created when MYSTERY! was put on hiatus several years ago.
In the years that followed, US cable, US Home Video, US syndication and US Development fell under Don’s direction. UK programs RUSS ABBOTT, THE WANDERER, and a package of HOLLYWOOD MEN/WOMEN/KIDS, are of few of the shows successfully launched in US syndication by Don. Later, he made record sales of THREES COMPANY (one of the original transatlantic formats based upon UK show MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE) and CINEMA EUROPE in cable. Today, he oversees worldwide sales and development, personally focusing on network production in The US and UK.
Don looks forward to the challenge carrying forward the legacy of his father who was responsible for introducing and selling into the US British programs as THE WORLD AT WAR, HOLLYWOOD, RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY and BENNY HILL, and is particularly known for the successful transfer of British programs into US television hit series such as THREE’S COMPANY (from the UK production, MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE) and TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT (whose UK original was KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY).
The UK’s most popular sitcom MY FAMILY, starring Robert Lindsey and Zoe Wanamaker, was a great first step in meeting that challenge. It was Don’s vision to bring an established US “showrunner” to the UK to produce a show in a modified US style with a table of writers. Today 127 episodes have been produced over 11 series. Similar projects are at various stages of development at other UK broadcasters
He also was Executive Producer of AS TIME GOES BY, starring Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer, as well as two Reunion Specials both produced in association with DLT’s sister company, The Theatre Of Comedy (owner of London’s Shaftesbury theatre), was also under his stewardship.
In addition to his duties at DLT Entertainment, Don was the founding Co-Chairman of the Internet Committee of The International Council of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences of which he is now Director. he is also a trustee of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts New York.