James Dolan tightens grip on struggling media empire by hiring wife

Billionaire James Dolan looked around the business world and decided the best people to run two of his struggling ventures were he and his wife.

The Madison Square Garden owner raised eyebrows Wednesday with an announcement that his wife, Kristin Dolan, will take over as CEO of AMC Networks later this month.

The surprise hire came one day after The Post’s exclusive report revealed Dolan had forced out two top executives overseeing his bloated effort to launch the MSG Sphere music venue in Las Vegas – and named himself as president of operations.

The expertise of Kristin Dolan, 56, will be put to the test at AMC, which just laid off 20% of its roughly 1,000 US-based employees in November during a significant revenue slump driven by cord-cutters.

Her predecessor as AMC Networks CEO, Christina Spade, abruptly exited the gig after just three months on the job at the same time the layoffs were announced.

Kristin Dolan will receive a base salary of at least $2 million while shepherding the troubled cable network behind past hits such as “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” She previously founded and led the audience analytics firm 605.

Dolan described his wife, a longtime Cablevision executive, as “the ideal person to lead AMC Networks into its next chapter.”

Kristin Dolan
Kristin Dolan was a longtime executive at Cablevision.
Getty Images

Kristin Dolan
Kristin Dolan will earn a base salary of at least $2 million.

“Kristin is a proven executive and operational leader with a track record driving organizational change, a history managing subscription-based businesses, and a deep understanding of audience engagement and advertising,” Dolan said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Dolan is taking the reins on his MSG Sphere project with just months remaining before the $2.2 billion arena’s slated launch this September.

MSG Sphere President Lucas Watson exited effective immediately and MSG Sphere Senior Manager of Business Operations Jenna Wolfenson is also departing.

AMC Networks
AMC Networks is best known for hit shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad.”
Variety via Getty Images

In an internal memo, Dolan said he was streamlining the company’s operations. A source said Dolan believed there were weak links in the organization’s leadership.

As The Post reported, the MSG boss has agreed to pay $10 million to the rock band U2 for a blockbuster opening show at the 17,500-seat venue in September. Dolan has also tapped acclaimed Hollywood director Darren Aronofsky to produce the first immersive film at the stadium.

MSG Sphere
MSG Sphere

The costly hires have stoked anxiety about a cash crunch facing the MSG Sphere project, which has been plagued by budget overruns and a struggle to secure the corporate sponsors or book the major acts needed to turn a profit, sources said.

The uncertainty at the MSG Sphere project and AMC Networks is one of many headaches for Dolan, who faces potential state investigations over his use of facial recognition technology to ban his perceived legal enemies at his venues.

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