Dawn Olmstead, George Cheeks Promoted to Run UCP, Wilshire Studios

Bill McGoldrick, Dawn Olmstead and George Cheeks Split - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal is firming up its executive ranks after longtime executive Jeff Wachtel's departure for an international position.

Dawn Olmstead and George Cheeks have been promoted to co-presidents of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios, reporting to NBCU Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer. Additionally, Bill McGoldrick has been upped from executive vp scripted content to president of scripted content at NBCU Cable Entertainment. He will now report to Hammer.

The promotions come more than a month after THR exclusively reported that Wachtel would step down from his role as chief content officer with NBCU and move to London to serve as president of NBCU International Studios. His position of chief content officer is not being replaced. McGoldrick had reported directly to Wachtel, as the latter executive had oversight on both the network and studio side.

Olmstead had served as Wachtel's No. 2 as executive vp development at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment's Wilshire Studios and head of development at Universal Cable Productions. Cheeks, meanwhile, will also have oversight of business affairs for NBCU's cable arm while continuing to serve in his role as president of NBC's late-night programming, the latter of which reports directly in to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. Given the new workload, Cheeks will step down as president of business operations for the network. NBC instead will divide production and business affairs into their respective homes on the scripted and alternative sides. Jennifer Salke will now oversee production and business affairs on the scripted side, while Paul Telegdy will do the same on the unscripted and alternative side. (Read Greenblatt's memo to staff about the changes, below.) The promotion cements a meteoritic rise for Cheeks, who in 2016 was named co-head of first-run syndication. (Telegdy will now oversee first-run syndication solo.) He's been with NBCU since 2012.

Cheeks and Olmstead, the latter of whom joined UCP in 2014, will jointly oversee all creative development and operations at both the scripted (UCP) and unscripted (Wilshire) studios.

"I can’t imagine stronger leadership for our studios,” Hammer said. “Dawn is one of the most talented creative executives I’ve ever worked with, and George’s business savvy is second to none. Their combined expertise promises to bolster UCP and Wilshire Studios’ already fantastic track record."

McGoldrick, meanwhile, will now be charged with development of all original scripted series for NBCU Cable Entertainment as well as alternative programming at USA Network and Syfy. He also now will have oversight of casting for all scripted content across the portfolio.

"I’ve worked with Bill since our earliest days at USA, and his natural creative instincts were apparent from the very beginning,” Hammer said. “With smarts, taste and a great personality, everyone, inside the company and out, enjoys working with Bill. He’s also got an unfailing gut when it comes to great content, critically important for us since it’s at the heart of everything we do."

McGoldrick first joined USA in 1998, rising from an assistant to vp series development. Most recently, he has overseen scripted dramas Happy (Syfy), The Arrangement (E!), Imposters (Bravo), The Sinner and Mr. Robot (USA).

Here's Greenblatt's memo to staff: 

Happy New Year, everyone. We’re starting out the year with some management changes within our leadership team and I wanted everyone to know about them.
George Cheeks will be taking on a new role in the company’s cable division co-running the cable studios for Bonnie Hammer. I’m pleased to say he will continue as President of Late Night Programming for NBC, but he won’t be involved in business operations or first-run syndication for us any longer. He will be greatly missed of course, but we wish him the best in this new opportunity.
Our management team is second to none and I’ve asked Jennifer Salke and Paul Telegdy to take on additional responsibilities at NBC Entertainment going forward. They are both best-in-class leaders with a deep understanding of our business and our culture. In the area of scripted business affairs and production, Masami Yamamoto and Jerry Dicanio, respectively, will now report to Jennifer. On the alternative/unscripted side, Lee Straus (business affairs) and Linda Giambrone (production) will report to Paul.  In addition, first-run syndication will be overseen by Paul.
I appreciate everyone’s patience as we make this transition. It’s a testament to the dedication of all who are taking on expanded or different responsibilities that will make these changes seamless. I’m also very grateful to the rest of our incredible senior management team -- Brad Melnick, Jeff Bader, Len Fogge, Chip Sullivan and Jodi DiCenzo -- who will also be providing continued support and guidance as well.
We’re at the start of a fantastic midseason that just delivered a belated holiday gift when “Ellen’s Game of Games” came roaring out of the gate on Tuesday. And new shows like “Good Girls,” “Rise,” and “A.P. Bio” are making many critics’ lists as the best of the upcoming shows.
And there’s also the Super Bowl, the Olympics, Kelly Clarkson coming to “The Voice,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” starring John Legend to round things out. Not to mention, the much-anticipated Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us”!
We’re in store for another great season. Here’s to an unprecedented 2018!