CBS Reality Chief Jennifer Bresnan to Depart

Jennifer Bresnan
Jennifer Bresnan
 Cliff Lipson/CW

CBS’ longtime reality chief is stepping down.

The departure of Jennifer Bresnan, who has led the network’s alternative programming since 2008, comes some two months after rival Fox announced its reality chief Mike Darnell would exit. Bresnan is set to relocate to New York, where her husband, CBS Corp. COO Joe Ianniello, and family live. She’ll step down from her day-to-day role in the department at the summer’s end, but will continue to consult on CBS’ unscripted series.

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“Jen has been an outstanding leader of this department, with tremendous passion for the genre and creative energy for our shows. She launched the most successful new network reality show in years with Undercover Boss, and has worked closely with our producers to keep Survivor, The Amazing Race and Big Brother at the top of their game -- three popular, long-running franchises that continue to play an important role in the network’s ratings leadership," CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said in a statement confirming the news Thursday. 

Added Bresnan: “I am so grateful to Leslie Moonves and Nina Tassler for bringing me into the CBS family and for their remarkable support. It has been an incredible honor to work with the strongest reality brands in the business, and I have the deepest respect for my team and all the producers whose passion keeps these shows thriving. It’s easier stepping down when it’s not goodbye, just a different location, and I am very excited to begin a new chapter of my life on the East Coast.”

The news comes at a particularly challenging time for the network reality business, as evidenced by the lack of new hits outside of NBC’s The Voice in recent years. (Though CBS’ long-running series still draw significant numbers, the network hasn’t launched a new juggernaut since Boss in 2010.) While broadcast continues to take shots with shiny-floor, tentpole programming, the bulk of the genre’s buzz of late has come out of cable -- see A&E’s Ducky Dynasty -- where ratings expectations are considerably lower. 

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