Amazon Taps Former CBS Exec to Run Unscripted

Chris Castallo will oversee unscripted TV development and executive produce series including 'Eco-Challenge' and the streamer's Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn series.
Chris Castallo

Amazon Studios has found its new head of unscripted.

Chris Castallo has replaced Heather Schuster at the streamer, the company announced Monday. Castallo most recently was head of development at Verizon's mobile platform Go90, and before that, headed unscripted programming for CBS. The veteran alternative executive had been with Go90 until it was shut down in June, and was with CBS for a decade and had run the division since 2013 before announcing his exit in March 2017. (Sharon Vuong replaced Castallo at CBS.)

In his new role as head of unscripted TV at Amazon, he will spearhead development of unscripted as the company eyes formats with global appeal. Castallo will also be involved with the upcoming Eco-Challenge series from Mark Burnett with host Bear Grylls as well as the Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn fashion project. Castallo will report directly to Amazon TV co-heads Albert Cheng and Vernon Sanders.

Castallo, who was one of multiple high-profile unscripted names in the mix for the Amazon job, replaces Schuster, who was pushed out in August after a year on the job following what sources say was an internal investigation into claims of verbal abuse. Schuster filled the vacancy left by Conrad Riggs, who was one of several executive departures following the resignation of Amazon Studios head Roy Price. With Castallo, new Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke has now installed her own executives for unscripted, television and international, among others.

For his part, Castallo entered the unscripted space in 2007 with CBS, rising to executive vp in 2013. As head of alternative for the broadcast network, he oversaw multiple seasons of Survivor, Amazing Race, Undercover Boss and Big Brother. Before that, Castallo was senior vp scripted at NBC, having worked on series including Friday Night Lights, Heroes and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He started his career with Tollin/Robbins Productions, where he produced and developed Smallville, One Tree Hill and What I Like About You for The WB Network.