9:45am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Jeff Wachtel Moving to London to Run NBCUniversal International Studios (Exclusive)
Jeff Wachtel is on the move.
The executive, who has served as chief content officer at NBCUniversal, is exiting his post to begin a new endeavor as president of NBCUniversal International Studios. Wachtel, who will start in January and move from Los Angeles to London in summer 2018, will manage all aspects of television development, production, formats and strategic content partnerships for NBCUniversal International Studios. He will report to Kevin MacLellan, chairman of global distribution and international. Wachtel replaces Michael Edelstein, who announced his exit last month after a seven-year run and will leave at year's end, when his contract is up.
A replacement for Wachtel has not yet been determined. It's unclear whether Dawn Olmstead, who has 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, will be promoted to replace him.
"The ability to produce for a local and a global audience is key to the future success of any major production company. Jeff is one of the few creative executives in the business who has proven time and again that he can deliver shows that work on both planes," MacLellan, who reports to Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCU International Group and NBCU Telemundo Enterprises, said in a statement. "Working with him closely over the years, my team and I have always found him to be incredibly collaborative and sensitive to what works best for our international audiences. We couldn’t be more thrilled that he is joining us to help grow our production businesses around the world." (Conde reports to NBCU CEO Steve Burke.)
Wachtel, who previously reported to NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios chairman Bonnie Hammer, had been responsible for content development and production at NBCU's Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy, USA Network and E! He also served as president of UCP (scripted) and Wilshire Studios (unscripted).
"Jeff has a unique blend of great creative instincts and business savvy,” Hammer said. “It’s the reason he has one of the most impressive track records in the business, and I know he’ll continue to work his magic at our International Studios.”
NBCUniversal International Studios includes NBC Universal International Productions — headed by JoAnn Alfano — and production companies including Gareth Neame's Carnival Films (Downton Abbey, Lucky Man, Jamestown, The Last Kingdom), Monkey Kingdom (Made in Chelsea), Matchbox Pictures (The Slap, Wanted) and joint ventures including Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner's Working Title Television and David Heyman's Heyday TV. Wachtel will oversee a global formats business that licenses and produces content in more than 70 territories worldwide. The company in May sold a Hanna adaptation to Amazon, which picked up the drama straight to series. The studio more recently acquired rights to Out of Africa. (NBCU International also attempted a reboot of Xena, which did not move forward.)
"I’m going from one dream job to another," Wachtel said. "Nothing can top my experience helping to grow USA and then UCP into hugely successful enterprises. And I have been lucky to benefit from Bonnie’s leadership and my wonderful relationship with the incredible NBCU teams. The only thing that could be more exciting is the adventure of moving to London and working with our great international folks to help take that business to the next level.”
During his time with NBCU Cable, Wachtel has delivered hits including USA Network's Mr. Robot and The Sinner. He has taken Bravo into the scripted space with Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce and oversaw a rebranding at Syfy that includes The Magicians and more.
Wachtel first joined the company in 2001 as executive vp series and longform programming at USA Network, later moving up to become co-president of the cabler.