Women in Entertainment Power 100: The TV Set

8:00 AM 12/9/2015

by THR staff

"Golden Age" or bloated glut? Whatever your view on this era of content, those who control it only wield more clout as distribution multiplies.

Bela Bajaria, Sandra Stern, Jennifer Salke - H 2015
Getty Images

Bela Bajaria, Sandra Stern, Jennifer Salke - H 2015

  • Bela Bajaria

    Promoted to president of NBCUniversal's chief production company this year, Bajaria has 24 series on the broadcast schedule — including 11 freshman series — and has overseen off-network sales to outlets including Netflix (Tina Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Aziz Ansari's Master of None) and Hulu (Jason Katims' The Path). She also was key in finding a home for The Mindy Project at Hulu after Fox passed on a third season. Her studio also is behind Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise.

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I met Mother Teresa in Calcutta."

    INDUSTRY PET PEEVE "When contracts are treated as suggestions."

    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "Access to a golf cart."


    FAVORITE TV SHOW (THAT I'M NOT INVOLVED WITH) Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones

  • Gina Balian and Nicole Clemens

    The duo, who both earned their exec vp stripes in October after joining FX in 2012, are responsible for developing FX Networks' slate of originals. Clemens has a mostly successful track record, with The Strain, Tyrant, Man Seeking Woman and the critical darling You're the Worst all returning for additional seasons. Next she will launch Better Things, a comedy starring Pamela Adlon and produced by Louis C.K., as well as Donald Glover's Atlanta. Balian, meanwhile, has Emmy-winning anthology Fargo drawing raves for its second run and has Ryan Murphy and Nina Jacobson's hot anthology American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson due in February. She's also developing X-Men drama pilot Legion with Fargo's Noah Hawley.

    INDUSTRY PET PEEVE Balian: "When someone leaves word and then within a few minutes emails — do you call back or not? It's an etiquette quandary."

    SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD Balian: "Teleportation. Traffic breeds contempt."

    BalianHomeland; the original Degrassi Junior High
    Clemens: Silicon Valley

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME Clemens: "I was contestant No. 2 on The Dating Game and won a trip to New Orleans."


  • Sarah Barnett

    A month after taking a nearly 50 percent stake in BBC America, AMC Networks tapped SundanceTV topper Barnett to oversee the home of Orphan Black and Doctor Who. Since then, Barnett has begun to transform the cable network, ordering mystery thriller Thirteen from Marnie Dickens and Undercover from Peter Moffat and putting six new projects in development, including anthology Dirk Gently from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams and Chronicle's Max Landis.

    MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "Every time I say 'OK,' I silently follow it with the word 'computer' in my head, referencing the 1997 Radiohead album."

    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "We have a dog nanny."

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I'm descended from a prize-winning, 18th century Portuguese-Jewish pugilist."

    ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC Benedict Cumberbatch

    FAVORITE TV SHOW (THAT I'M NOT INVOLVED WITH) Orange Is the New Black season two

  • Marie Donoghue

    Having managed ESPN's strategy, business affairs and business development since 2012, Donoghue now has a portfolio that includes ESPN Films (and its Emmy-winning 30 for 30 series), Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and popular ESPN programs including Pardon the Interruption and SportsNation. A rocky period began in the spring when her boss, John Skipper, cut loose Bill Simmons and in October shuttered Simmons' Grantland. But Donoghue tapped well-regarded Washington Post editor Kevin Merida to run the company's The Undefeated while developing multiplatform storytelling under the Exit 31 content banner.

    MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "TV Academy college intern at Days of Our Lives."

    HOW I SAVE TIME "Focus on one thing at a time."

    SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "Teleportation between NYC and L.A."

  • Michele Ganeless

    Ganeless' year has been one of tremendous change, having kicked off 2015 focused on rebooting the 11:30 p.m. slot and ending it focused on rebooting the 11 p.m. one. To her credit, the transition from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore has been smooth despite early and predictable ratings slides. Inside Amy Schumer ensured Comedy Central had regular viral hits, and Another Period and Broad City have garnered raves.

    MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "Research manager for HA!, the precursor to Comedy Central."

    THING PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro."


  • Lisa Gregorian, Marla Provencio, Pamela Levine, and Stephanie Gibbons

    Cutting through the clutter of 400-plus scripted series is increasingly reliant on marketing — be it polished campaign art (FX's American Horror Story: Hotel), reviving (maybe) the dead (HBO's Jon Snow-centric Game of Thrones teasers), working social media (Warner Bros.' millennial-friendly DC Comics slate) or launching an international superstar in the U.S. (ABC's Quantico star, Priyanka Chopra).

    Gibbons: "There are almost no gas stations on Wilshire." Gregorian: "Pick your boss, not your job."
    Levine: "You should not wear a prom dress to a premiere." Provencio: "Not everyone listens."

    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE Gibbons: "Valet parking at the gynecologist's office."

    MY QUIRKIEST HABIT Gregorian: "I am completely idiom challenged and never leave a meeting without accidentally stealing someone's pen."

  • Tonia O'Connor

    Since joining the Spanish language network in 2008, O'Connor steadily has expanded her portfolio to include development, licensing and distribution across all screens and platforms; with a promotion to a newly created position Dec. 2, her purview now includes enterprise development. This year she forged deals with Sling TV and Verizon's go90 while also launching OTT service Univision Now, which offers telenovelas, awards shows (Latin Grammys) and sports (Mexico's Liga MX, the most watched soccer league in the U.S.).

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I was a competitive figure skater."

    SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "The ability to blow out my own hair."

  • Susan Rovner

    The 15-year Warner Bros. veteran executive developed the precious few 2015 breakouts that broadcast had to offer in NBC's Blindspot and CBS' Supergirl. Rovner also is behind the genre shows — Arrow and The Flash — that have helped reinvigorate The CW. (Up next: Legends of Tomorrow, with Brandon Routh and Wentworth Miller.) On the cable side, she has overseen such big bets as Hulu's Stephen King miniseries 11/22/63, Netflix's Full House reboot Fuller House and HBO's sci-fi thriller Westworld.

    WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD "The power of admitting you don't know the answer to a question. By simply saying 'I don’t know,' you get the opportunity to learn and become better at your job."

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "In college, I first majored in math and graduated with an economics degree. (I love math!)"

    THE ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC "I think it would be best to defer to the director to make that decision. I like to support the creative talent I'm in business with."

    AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … "I'm the only woman in a room. This tends to happen in more senior meetings and unfortunately highlights that while the glass ceiling has been lifted, it still absolutely exists."

  • Jennifer Salke

    Salke's network managed to launch a bona fide hit in Blindspot this fall and has rounded out the past two broadcast seasons at No. 1 in the 18-to-49 demographic — up from No. 4 for nearly a decade. The married mother of three, who moved from 20th Century Fox TV to NBC in 2011, also has oversight of scripted series at sibling studio Universal Television, which produces NBC hits The Blacklist and Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise.

    FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "Working on a talent agent's desk at William Morris."

    WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD "Don't take anything personally."


  • Sandra Stern

    Upped to president in September, the 12-year company vet has been the driving force in its TV group's growth from $447 million in revenue in fiscal 2014 to nearly $600 million last year. The Brooklyn native, who bid goodbye to studio Emmy winner Mad Men this spring, spearheads strategy and dealmaking for a portfolio that encompasses more than 30 series, including Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, WGN America's Manhattan, E!'s The Royals and Hulu's Casual.

    MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "I am constantly juggling a Slinky."

    MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "I was a baby lawyer in the legal department of Columbia Pictures Television, alongside Nancy Tellem and Gary Newman."


    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "Where do I start? I have 'people.'"

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature, and did my dissertation on Samuel Beckett … in French."

    ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC "Is Marion Cotillard unrealistic?"

  • Deborah Turness

    The British former ITV exec has brought new urgency to her domain; shows under her watch (and that of NBC News chairman Andy Lack, to whom she reports), including Today and Nightly News With Lester Holt, are besting the competition. Fending off an early challenge from ABC's World News Tonight With David Muir, Holt now regularly wins the evening-news race. And so far this season, Today is topping ABC's Good Morning America in the 25-to-54 demographic.

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I am a trained 4x4 rally car driver."

    HOW I SAVE TIME "I use three devices so I can watch shows, write emails and talk on the phone at the same time."

  • Ad Sales Stars

    Ross unloaded close to 80 percent of her net's primetime for $2.6 billion in commitments from buyers this season. The net saw an 8 percent uptick in advertising growth for the third quarter, and with the 50th Super Bowl game coming in February and 30-second spots expected to go for $5 million, the outlook for 2016 is even rosier.  With a diverse slate of diverse scripted hits (Scandal, Blackish, How To Get Away with Murder) that appeal to a multicultural audience, Wang has been extremely aggressive in pushing for and achieving the highest rate increases among her broadcast competitors (close to 6 percent) during this year's upfront selling market. And Yaccarino secured nearly $6 billion at the upfronts across broadcast and cable, while digital video sales were up 50 percent.

    Ross: "My dog has a nanny."
    Wang: "How much I travel."
    Yaccarino: "Hanging out with the Kardashians."

    Ross: "Waiting for all viewers to be truly measured."
    Yaccarino: "Legacy thinking."

    Ross: "To make myself invisible."
    Wang: "Either super speed so I can get everything done, or the ability to split myself into multiple copies so I can be in many places at the same time. Oh, and teleportation would be nice too."