Former NBC Exec Vernon Sanders to Co-Head TV at Amazon Studios

Vernon Sanders split with Jennifer Salke- Split Publicity-Getty-H 2018
Courtesy of Amazon; Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Amazon Studios' Jennifer Salke has brought in a familiar face from her NBC days to join her at the retailer/streamer.

Amazon Studios has tapped former NBC head of current programming Vernon Sanders to serve as co-head of television and work alongside Albert Cheng. In his new post, Sanders will oversee creative and production for Amazon Prime Video. The appointment helps bolster Amazon's TV team with Cheng, who before Salke had served as interim head of all of Amazon and doubles as chief operating officer. Cheng will continue to oversee the business side. Sanders, like Cheng, reports directly to Salke.

 “I’m thrilled to announce Vernon Sanders’ appointment to co-head of television for Amazon Studios,” said Salke, who replaced the ousted Roy Price as head of Amazon Studios earlier this year. “Vernon’s undeniable expertise in nurturing talent and creative material will be a huge asset to our studio. Having worked side-by-side with him for seven years at NBC Entertainment, I can speak first-hand to his talents as a leader and creative force. I know Vernon and Albert Cheng will be a formidable team as we continue to build Amazon Studios.”

Sanders stepped down as head of current programming at NBC in November so he could return to his roots as a producer with an overall deal with studio Universal Television. He since signed on as a producer on the NBCU studio's Amazing Stories reboot at Apple. Sanders spent a decade at NBC and had been head of current since 2015. Most recently, he oversaw scripted series including the network's Will & Grace revival, This Is Us, Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise and Mike Schur's The Good Place. His résumé includes duties as senior vp drama for the network and studio, during which he worked on Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. His tenure at NBC also includes serving as executive vp comedy programming, working on hits including 30 Rock and The Office. He has more than 20 years' experience in the industry with key relationships with top producers including Wolf, Tina Fey, J.J. Abrams, Dan Fogelman, Schur and Greg Berlanti. (Bruce Evans subsequently replaced Sanders as head of current at NBC.)

"I am tremendously excited to be joining Jennifer Salke, Albert Cheng and the forward-thinking team at Amazon Studios as they build an incredible destination for high-quality, compelling content," said Sanders. "My time as a producer has reaffirmed my passion for working closely with creators to champion shows which delight and surprise our audiences. I'm grateful to my family at NBCU for their support as I jump into this new challenge."

Sanders' appointment follows Salke's decision to restructure Amazon's development team. During that move, Cheng was tapped for the newly created role of co-head of television, with Salke set to hand-pick someone with more experience working with creatives. The scripted development team was reorganized to report to Cheng and now Sanders. Sharon Tal Yguado continues to foucs on genre; Marc Resteghini is head of drama; Nick Hall is head of alternative, YA and specialty series; Georgia Brown heads the U.K. scripted side; and all other key departments remain as-is. Those include  Ryan Andolina and Gina Kwon as co-heads of comedy; Heather Schuster as head of unscripted (a position she landed in October after Price's top lieutenant Conrad Riggs was pushed out); and Melissa Wolfe as head of kids programming. (Wolfe replaced Tara Sorensen, who left for Apple).

Salke, on the job since February, has already begun to make her mark on Amazon Studios. The former NBC Entertainment president recently renewed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for a third season and has been busy reviewing Amazon's scripted roster and development pipeline.