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Syfy Beefs Up Unscripted Department With Five Hires (Exclusive)

Syfy Logo - H 2012
A scene from the channel's "Face Off" competition series.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network names Robyn Lattaker-Johnson, Wayne Sampson and Colin Whelan as vice presidents of alternative programming, and Tori Socha and Andrew Whitney as directors.

Syfy is beefing up it reality ranks as it continues its aggressive programming push.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network, which capped off 2011 up 11 percent in viewers, has named Robyn Lattaker-Johnson, Wayne Sampson and Colin Whelan as vice presidents of alternative programming. Additionally, Tori Socha and Andrew Whitney have been hired as directors in the channel’s unscripted department.

“On the heels of Syfy’s most watched year in history, we will be launching a record number of unscripted series in 2012. With their diverse experiences, creative sensibilities and stellar accomplishments, these five very gifted executives will play a key role in shaping that programming expansion and the continuing growth of the Syfy brand,” said the department’s SVP Tim Krubsack, to whom the trio of vps will report.

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In their new roles, Lattaker-Johnson, Sampson and Whelan will oversee the No. 12 network's current slate, which includes Face Off, Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Witness. Also, they will lord over the network’s upcoming efforts such as Monster Man, Dream Machines and Total Blackout, as well as develop new unscripted projects. Socha and Whitney, who like the others will be based in Syfy's Los Angeles office, will also play a part in identifying new offerings.

Prior to taking the gig, Lattaker-Johnson was an independent producer, with credits including Comic View: One Mic Stand. She also had served as BET’s SVP of original programming, where she spearheaded the development of such series as American GangsterKeyshia Cole: The Way It Is and Sunday Best.

For his part, Sampson came by way of Dick Clark Productions, where he played a key role in expanding the company's unscripted division as VP of development. Previously, he worked at both Discovery and Spike TV.

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Whelan was most recently at TLC, where he was responsible for Sarah Palin’s Alaska, LA Ink and competition series Ultimate Cake-Off. During his tenure, he also developed NY Ink andSurprise Homecoming.

Socha, too, came from TLC, where she served as manager of development, spearheading development on such series as Cake Boss, Sister Wives, Extreme Couponing and Hoarding: Buried Alive. Before that, she held roles at Discovery Studios, CBS and what was then William Morris.

Finally, Whitney comes from CMT, where he was a manager of development and thus heavily involved in series including Dallas Cowboys CheerleadersSweet Home Alabama and The Singing Bee. He, too, had worked at Dick Clark Productions as well as MTV, Magical Elves and Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst. 

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose