10:08pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Jeff Wachtel Out at NBCU International Amid Behavioral Issues
There's another shake-up at NBCUniversal.
NBC International Studios president Jeff Wachtel is out after a nearly 20-year run. Sources say there were discussions over concerns that were raised regarding respect in the workplace that prompted his immediate exit from the company. A search is under way for a replacement.
Wachtel's departure comes days after Meredith Ahr, NBC's top unscripted exec, was dismissed following an investigation into claims that she and former NBC entertainment president Paul Telegdy fostered a toxic culture at the network. The inquiry sprang from a Hollywood Reporter report on allegations of homophobic, misogynistic and racist behavior, especially within the network's reality division.
That inquiry was separate from a broader culture assessment ordered by NBCUniversal streaming and TV chairman Mark Lazarus, which also concluded earlier this week. It's unclear if Wachtel's departure is related the findings related with that investigation. The next step will be to brief the new leadership of the company's television operations.
NBCUniversal has recently undertaken a major restructuring in which Lifestyle Networks president Frances Berwick was elevated to a top business position overseeing NBC, USA and Syfy, among other networks and former Warner Bros. Television president Susan Rovner was hired to oversee content. Rovner, who officially started Oct. 5, is expected to install her own team of department heads. Telegdy, who was pushed out in August, will not be replaced as head of NBC.
Wachtel was among the executives who moved to report to Pearlena Igbokwe, who was recently installed to serve as chairman of NBCUniversal's Content Studios after Bonnie Hammer was tapped to become vice chair at the company. Igbokwe now oversees a portfolio that includes Universal Television, Universal Content Productions, NBCUniversal International Studios and Universal Television Alternative Studios. In addition to finding a replacement for Wachtel, she will have to replace herself as president of Universal TV.
As for Wachtel, the former chief content officer at NBCUniversal moved from L.A. to London in 2018 to head up the conglomerate's international studio, where he managed all aspects of television development, production, formats and strategic content partnerships. The company veteran had risen through the ranks and previously was 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). During his time with NBCUni's cable division, he 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.