NBC Restructures Scripted, Tal Rabinowitz Out

UPDATED: The move combines development and current, elevating Pearlena Igbokwe and Vernon Sanders, as the comedy development exec exits after several troubled years on the sitcom front.
Tal Rabinowitz

NBC Entertainment is reorganizing its scripted operations. President Jennifer Salke announced Tuesday that development and current are being combined, and scripted programming will now consist of drama and comedy divisions.

Part of the big move means Tal Rabinowitz, head of comedy development, is departing. She's been with NBC since coming over from Sony in 2011, part of Bob Greenblatt's new team at the time. Under Rabinowitz, the No. 1 network of the 2013-14 season has continued to struggle in comedies. About a Boy was the only entry from its latest freshman pack to receive a renewal for the next season.

The move is good news for Pearlena Igbokwe and Vernon Sanders, who rise to executive vice president drama and comedy programming, respectively. Both will head up development and current operations of their divisions, with Sanders continuing to oversee returning dramas through the transition.

“I’m excited about this new structure because I believe it will strengthen our programming by essentially eliminating the often difficult handoff going from the development of a new show into the current process,” said Salke. “Also, I believe that we have two of the best and most creative executives in the television business in Pearlena and Vernon, who will now be the chief lieutenants of scripted programming from the inception of an idea through the life of a show. I also want to thank Tal Rabinowitz, who has been an invaluable comedy resource for us during the rebuilding of this network, for her passion and dedication to this company for the past three years.”

Sanders is a longtime NBC staffer, head of current the last few years, while Igbokwe joined from Showtime two years ago. She's already delivered The Blacklist and Chicago P.D., the two biggest standouts from the Peacock's most recent season.

Having launched the biggest drama of the last season in The Blacklist, NBC is going to great lengths to reignite its flagging comedy efforts. Thursday's "Must-See" block of four comedies goes away next season, with the night standing as the network's only day of the week to see season-to-season losses this past year.

One tactic it's using is outsourcing efforts, recently announcing the "Comedy Playground" initiative. A panel of NBC alums and personalities including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Seth Meyers are sitting on an advisory board that will select projects from up-and-coming comedy writers. NBC is eyeing TV premieres for two such projects for 2015.