NBCU Consolidates Lifestyle Group, Lays Off 5 Percent of Cable Staff

Frances Berwick - September 23, 2015- Serious - Getty-H 2019
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Frances Berwick is reorganizing NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment's Lifestyle Networks group.

In a bid to remain competitive and better position the unit, Berwick has consolidated the group that includes cable brands Bravo, Oxygen and E!, among others. As part of the changes, Amy Introcaso-Davis — who served as executive vp development and production at E! — has been let go. Additionally, Jerry Leo — who headed program strategy at Bravo and Oxygen — is also leaving. Sources estimate the number of layoffs as part of the reorganization to be 5 percent of the Lifestyle Networks group staff. (It's unclear the total number of executives in that division.)

Introcaso-Davis' role has been eliminated. Rachel Smith, currently senior vp development at Bravo, has added E! to her purview and been promoted to executive vp. Rod Aissa, currently executive vp programming and development at Oxygen, adds production duties at E! as well. Leo's role has been eliminated and his duties merged under Val Boreland. The changes arrive days after E! president Adam Stotsky departed the cable brand. He is not being replaced. Instead, his responsibilities will be shared across key senior team members.

Additionally, E! vp unscripted development Betsy Slenzak is moving to Peacock in the same role, and will report to Bill McGoldrick, who oversees programming for NBCU cable brands Syfy and USA Network and who recently added oversight of the company's upcoming streaming platform.

The changes arrive two years after Bonnie Hammer reorganized NBCUniversal's network group and consolidated cable brands under Chris McCumber, with the exec adding Syfy to his oversight that already included USA Network. McGoldrick was elevated as part of that move.

Berwick, president of Lifestyle Networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, detailed the changes in a lengthy memo to staff Thursday. Read that in full, below.

Today the Lifestyle Group is making some changes to better organize ourselves for the future. I’m confident that this new structure, which creates multi-brand roles, will allow us to continue to grow the business and optimize our internal talent. With that, I’m excited to announce the following changes to my leadership team:

Effective immediately, Jen Neal, previously EVP E! Marketing & Live Events, has been promoted to General Manager, E! News, Live Events and Lifestyle Digital. In her new role, she will oversee the expanded E! News Operation and manage the Digital assets across Bravo, E!, Oxygen & Universal Kids. Jen will continue to oversee Live Events at E! including the People’s Choice Awards and Live from the Red Carpet.  

Ellen Stone, currently EVP Marketing Bravo, Oxygen and Universal Kids, will assume responsibility for E! marketing as EVP, Marketing, Lifestyle Networks, creating a singular marketing team across all four Lifestyle brands. 

Jennifer Geisser, SVP Communications for Bravo, Oxygen and Universal Kids, is adding E! to her role as well as overseeing talent relations and is promoted to SVP, Communications and Talent Relations for the Lifestyle Networks.

In an effort to further strengthen our creative position in the marketplace, we are combining Bravo and E! development and promoting Rachel Smith, currently SVP, Bravo Development, to EVP, Development, Bravo & E! 

Rod Aissa, currently EVP, Programming & Development, Oxygen, will expand his role to also oversee production for E! as EVP, Original Programming, Oxygen and E! Production.

Shari Levine will continue in her role as EVP Production, Bravo. 

All of these roles will report directly to me, effective immediately.

Holly Tang, CFO and Head of Production Operations, Lifestyle Networks, and Dave Kaplan, SVP Strategic Insights and Research, Lifestyle Networks, will also continue to report to me. 

Lastly, in conjunction with the Entertainment Networks, Val Boreland, currently EVP, Content Strategy for the Entertainment Networks, will take on a new role as EVP, Content Strategy, Entertainment & Lifestyle Group. In her expanded role, Val will lead the program scheduling and acquisition teams across USA, Syfy, Bravo, E!, Oxygen and Universal Kids. In addition, Val will manage a newly-centralized promotion scheduling team across all six channels of the Entertainment & Lifestyle group. Val will co-report to me and Chris McCumber, President Entertainment Networks.   

I realize that this is major change for us, but I believe this leadership team and new structure, along with the talented employees working across all these brands, will drive our continued success.