NBCU Cable's Bonnie Hammer on Power, Profits and Risk-Taking
The THR Power 100 honoree and chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group has seen her profits rise during a particularly challenging time for the cable business.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The queen of cable maintains her title, with the most profitable empire of any woman in Hollywood. Despite ongoing ratings challenges across the landscape, Hammer's group of 10 networks and two cable studios is expected to post profits of about $2.8 billion this year, up from $2.7 billion year-over-year and by far the biggest contributor to NBCUniversal's bottom line. In fact, 2015 marks the 10th consecutive year in which her portfolio registered growth in both profit and revenue. The NBCU vet, who reports to CEO Steve Burke, oversees about 2,000 employees in the larger cable entertainment group and 12 direct reports, including Power 100 list-makers Frances Berwick and Beth Roberts. In any given week, 118 million viewers tune in to Hammer's networks. Collectively the group has aired 137 original series in 2015, a mix of unscripted (Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Real Housewives) and scripted (The Royals, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce). Among the standouts: USA's hacker drama Mr. Robot, which earned widespread critical acclaim; and Caitlyn Jenner's I Am Cait, which made E! a key part of the cultural conversation. Hammer, a married mother of two, also is among an elite subset of Hollywood power women who additionally sit on corporate boards. She joined the IAC board in September 2014 and eBay's board four months later.
MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "My dog Garbo, named for a Hollywood icon and every bit as gorgeous as her namesake (but friendlier … she doesn't like to be left alone)."
WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I can play piano and guitar. People don't know because some 'talents' are best hidden."
MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "I bob and weave through L.A. traffic like a real New Yorker … to the horror of anyone in the passenger seat."
THE ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC "If they start with the early days, the amazing Jennifer Lawrence (I can dream can't I?)."
AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … "I'm referred to as a 'woman in this business.'"
Other Power Squad honorees: Shari Redstone, Elizabeth Banks, Cindy Holland, Kathleen Kennedy, Donna Langley, Nancy Dubuc, Jennifer Lawrence, Dana Walden, Megyn Kelly, Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Ilene Chaiken, Taraji P. Henson, Barbara Broccoli, Amy Schumer