George Cheeks Exits NBCUniversal, Eyes Senior CBS Post

George Cheeks - NBC - Publicity - H 2020
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

George Cheeks' tenure at NBCUniversal is coming to an abrupt end, as the senior studio executive is said be eyeing a top post at CBS.

Three months after he was plucked from his role as co-chairman of entertainment at NBC to serve as Bonnie Hammer's No. 2 at the company's combined studio operation, Cheeks is expected to land at the recently merged ViacomCBS. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the company is in advanced talks with Cheeks for a senior role at CBS, but there’s no deal in place. CBS declined comment on the matter.

Cheeks, who joined NBC in 2012, had been a rising star within the company. He tapped to run the broadcast network (alongside current chairman Paul Telegdy) following Bob Greenblatt's departure in September 2018. After a year on the job, Hammer brought the well-known dealmaker with her when she moved from overseeing NBCUniversal's forthcoming streamer, Peacock.

NBCU merged its two core studios — cable-focused Universal Content Studios and broadcast-leaning Universal Television — in October. Cheeks was tapped as vice chairman of NBCUniversal Content Studios, reporting to Hammer. He continued to report to Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment chairman, who will exit the company later this year. 

The role returned Cheeks to his studio roots after a year running NBC alongside Telegdy. Before being tapped to help replace Greenblatt, Cheeks had been serving as co-president of UCP and unscripted sibling Wilshire Studios, as well as president of late-night programming at NBC Entertainment. He was promoted in January 2018 to run UCP and Wilshire following Jeff Wachtel's departure. Cheeks already had oversight of business affairs for NBCU's cable arm on top of his role overseeing NBC's late-night programming, the latter of which reported directly to Greenblatt. At the time, Cheeks stepped down as president of business operations for the network. NBC instead divided production and business affairs into their respective homes on the scripted and alternative sides.

The news comes mere days before NBCUniversal is poised to unveil Peacock during a massive presentation to investors Thursday in New York.

Deadline was first to report the Cheeks news. The Wall Street Journal first reported news of his CBS move.

Jan. 14, 7:00 p.m. Updated to reflect Cheeks' move to CBS.