NBC Uni reveals details of exec shuffle
Company to merge network, UMS operationsIn one of the biggest executive shakeups in recent TV history, NBC on Monday let go of its top programming executives at the network and the studio as well as most of the department heads and senior executives at both entities.
NBC Uni confirmed that it is merging NBC and Universal Media Studios and has tapped the company's international TV production chief Angela Bromstad to oversee the combined unit's scripted programming as president of primetime entertainment.
Former BBC Worldwide Prods. president Paul Telegdy has been named executive vp alternative programming and will head the unscripted department at the network as well as UMS' newly formed alternative production studio.
Additionally, Bromstad will continue to supervise the company's international production, while Telegdy will also oversee the international sales of unscripted formats generated by the new production unit. Both Bromstad and Telegdy will start Jan. 5 and report to NBC Uni co-chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff.
In the fallout from the shakeup, NBC's head of scripted programming Teri Weinberg, UMS president Katherine Pope and NBC head of alternative programming Craig Plestis will leave their posts as expected, joined on Monday by a half-dozen other high-level programming executives.
Plestis will leave in January to launch a new production company, Apogee Studios, and will have a deal through the new alternative studio, in which he is expected to play a key role. Weinberg will continue in her position until the end of her contract in June and then launch her own production company with a deal at UMS.
Also among the departing NBC and UMS execs are NBC drama head Katie O'Connell, UMS' No. 2 exec and head of comedy and current Erin Gough Wehrenberg, UMS drama head Elisa Roth and vp Lauren Stein, NBC's head of castings Marc Hirschfeld, the network's executive vp current Ted Frank and Plestis' No. 2 in the alternative department Libby Hansen.
At a press call Monday, NBC brass declined comment on which executives are leaving, but Graboff maintained that the network's actions are because of organizational streamlining.
"It's not a clean sweep," he said. "There is a lot of people staying with the organization. This is a restructuring to right-size our business. You're going to see a lot of the same faces."
Graboff also billed the shakeup as an effort to become a more creative-friendly company, saying that TV writers have been getting "noted to death by our executives" under the structure of separate scripted divisions.
"We're eliminating layers of bureaucracy," he said. "We're eliminating the multiple number of people involved in the creative organization so there's the shortest possible line between a writers' vision and what goes on the television screen."
NBC execs emphasized that they will continue to buy projects from third-party studios and that UMS will continue to sell programming to other networks.
Bromstad declined to name her picks to lead the drama and comedy departments at the combined unit, which will oversee both development and current programming, but stressed that she would be looking for people with combined network and studio experience.
NBC head of comedy Jeff Ingold, who also worked under Bromstad at NBC Universal TV Studios, is said to likely stay on as head of comedy.
NBC vp drama programming Terence Carter is expected to be named interim head of the drama department.
There is speculation that Bromstad might approach another of her lieutenants at NBC Uni TV, former drama head Laura Lancaster, as a permanent drama head. However, Lancaster is under contract at Fox, where she heads drama development.
Asked about the timing of the executive shakeup, Silverman said that while he's "personally disappointed" with the performance of NBC's new shows, he stressed that the personnel changes are not tied to that. Rather, he said, it was the fact that Telegdy had become available and London-based Bromstad, who had worked closely with Silverman on the production of NBC's new series "The Philanthropist," had expressed a desire to return to Los Angeles.
"But I would also add we need to be patient and one of the things I've learned is that patience is where we need to be," Silverman said. "We look at shows like 'Kath & Kim' and remember that no comedies break out with their initial airing. It takes patience. And it's really exciting to be inside a development season without a strike."
Asked about his own future at NBC, Silverman declined to confirm the speculation that he is re-upping his contract.
"I'm so focused on my job, and that continues to be the case," he said.