JoAnn Alfano Expands NBCUni Purview With Current, International Duties

JoAnn Alfano
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JoAnn Alfano

JoAnn Alfano is expanding her purview at NBCUniversal.

The executive, with the company since 2013, is adding oversight of current programming at Universal Content Studios as well as the International Formats Group to her duties. (The latter unit previously reported to ousted NBC alternative boss Meredith Ahr.)

Exec vp international development Enrique Guillen will now report to Alfano, who will be charged with leading the International Formats Group's expansion and content pipeline. Guillen's group currently includes setting the sales strategy for NBCU IP adaptations including local-language takes on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Superstore, Suits, Songland, Hollywood Game Night and the Real Housewives franchise.

Alfano, who has been running Universal TV's current department since 2018, will add oversight of current programming for studio counterpart Universal Content Productions. Her new title will be exec vp scripted current series and head of international business development at Universal Studio Group.

The news was announced Tuesday in a memo to staff from Pearlena Igbokwe, the former president of Universal TV who was recently promoted to serve as chairman of NBCU's Content Studios. Alfano will report to Igbokwe for international matters and to UCP president Dawn Olmstead and the yet-to-be named new president of Universal TV for current duties. (A search is currently underway for an exec to replace Igbokwe at the helm of UTV.)

While Alfano oversees current series for both UTV and UCP, both studios will continue to operate independently under Igbokwe's purview while also consolidating in areas that can help create cost savings and improving functionality.

"While each studio will continue to have dedicated executives, this new structure will allow us to allocate resources as needed to handle the volume of our ever-increasing slate of current series more efficiently," Igbokwe wrote in her memo to staff. "It will also help us to further meet our USG goals of fostering cross-studio collaboration, leveraging shared resources, integrating talent and creating consistent business practices."

For her part, Alfano joined NBCU in 2013 as executive vp scripted programming at NBCUniversal International Studios, where she oversaw the expansion of the global scripted business. Before that, she was president of Brillstein TV and had a stint as head of programming at Lifetime. She also spent time at broadcast network NBC, where she served as the head of comedy and drama development and worked on the original Will & Grace, Homicide, Scrubs and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and won an Emmy while serving as executive producer of 30 Rock.

The moves are the latest to come at NBCUniversal, which recently reorganized its entertainment ranks to focus on genre rather than outlet. Igbokwe has continued to add to her oversight since inheriting the studio divisions from vice chair Bonnie Hammer. Earlier this month, Igbokwe added Universal TV Alternative Studios to her purview. That division, like the formats group, was previously overseen by Ahr.

Ahr was pushed out from NBC following a nearly 20-year career. She departed earlier this month 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.

Here's Igbokwe's memo to staff:

Hi Everyone,

Please join me in welcoming the International Formats Group to our Universal Studio Group (USG) family!

Enrique Guillen, EVP, Commercial Strategy and International Development, will now be reporting to JoAnn Alfano. Under JoAnn’s direction, Enrique and his team will continue to focus on the international expansion and reach of USG’s formats and content pipeline.  His responsibilities include setting the sales strategy for NBCU IP adaptations across the world and forming strategic partnerships to create new sources of global IP.  Currently, the Formats Group is managing international versions of multiple projects including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Superstore,” “Suits,” “Safe Harbour,” “Top Chef,” “SNL,” “Songland,” “Hollywood Game Night” and “The Real Housewives” franchise.

I am also pleased to announce that in addition to adding the International Formats Group to her purview, JoAnn Alfano is expanding her responsibilities to oversee Current Programming for both Universal Television and UCP.  Her new title will be EVP Scripted Current Series and Head of International Business Development, USG. JoAnn will report to me for Formats and International Business Development and to both Dawn Olmstead, President of UCP and the yet to be named President of Universal Television for Current Series.

While each studio will continue to have dedicated executives, this new structure will allow us to allocate resources as needed to handle the volume of our ever-increasing slate of current series more efficiently.  It will also help us to further meet our USG goals of fostering cross-studio collaboration, leveraging shared resources, integrating talent and creating consistent business practices.

Prior to joining UTV, JoAnn was EVP, Scripted Programming for NBC International Studio; President, Brillstein Television; and Head of Programming for Lifetime Television.  She has also held stints as the head of Comedy and Drama Development for NBC.

JoAnn is well respected across the industry and we are lucky to have someone who brings such a wealth of experience to this newly created role.

While we do see the opportunity in unifying our current teams, I believe that our development teams are a vital part of leveraging the individual brand identities of our two domestic studios.  Therefore, we will continue to lean into the expertise of Erin Underhill, EVP, Drama Development and Jim Donnelly, EVP, Comedy Development who will report into the new President of UTV and UCP’s Scott Nemes, EVP, Development who will continue reporting to Dawn.

I hope that you will take a moment today to welcome Enrique and the Formats Group to USG, and to congratulate JoAnn.  I look forward to working with each of them to drive success both in the individual studio businesses and as part of a collaborative USG family.

As our tagline says, “Watch what we can do together.”

Pearlena