THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
When the great Charlie Sheen implosion of 2011 deprived CBS of its No. 1 sitcom, Barak stepped in to negotiate a new deal with producer Warner Bros. to keep Chuck Lorre's Two and a Half Men on the air -- and keep it delivering huge ratings -- with Ashton Kutcher stepping into the shoes of the departed star. "Everybody worked together as a team to bring that show back and make Ashton part of the cast," says Barak, 54, CBS' top business affairs executive and the mother of three grown children.
The former O'Melveny & Meyers litigator has been with the network for 27 years, rising first through the legal department and then business operations. Barak, who built on 2010 success such as closing deals for David Letterman and Craig Ferguson re-ups, had a big 2011 with closing huge deals that placed Ted Danson and Elizabeth Shue on CSI, re-upped the cast of Criminal Minds and secured the Grammys telecast for another 10 years.
Barak says none of her success would be possible without the help of longtime CBS exec Nancy Tellem, who is currently the senior advisor to CEO Les Moonves. "Nancy is my biggest mentor within the company," says Barak. "She brought me out of the legal world into the business world. I learned everything I know about business affairs from her," she says of her work, which includes overseeing the thrust of the network's talent and producer deals, and licensing fees.
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