Universal TV Alternative Studios Moves to Pearlena Igbokwe's Group

Pearlena Igbokwe
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Pearlena Igbokwe

Pearlena Igbokwe's purview is expanding.

The newly installed chairman of NBCUniversal's Content Studios is adding oversight of Toby Gorman's Universal Television Alternative Studios team. Ousted NBC alternative boss Meredith Ahr previously oversaw UTAS, which was behind hits including NBC's The Titan Games. Igbokwe made the announcement in a memo to staff Thursday.

With the addition, Igbokwe now oversees a portfolio that includes Universal Television, Universal Content Productions, NBCUniversal International Studios and Universal Television Alternative Studios.

The news comes days after Ahr was pushed out from NBC following a nearly 20-year career. She departed Monday 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.

Sources say the investigator interviewed more than 60 current and former network employees and found that both Telegdy and Ahr's behavior was not in line with standards the company expects, especially from its senior leaders.

Gorman, who previously reported to Ahr, will now answer to Igbokwe. Originally launched by Fernando Hernandez, Ahr took over Universal Television Alternative Studios in 2016. Gorman was tapped to lead the division in August 2019 after Ahr was upped to head NBC Entertainment's Alternative and Reality Group.

Gorman's unit oversees development, sales and creative affairs for unscripted series. Programs under his purview include NBC's Making It, The Wall, The Titan Games, Songland, World of Dance and Weakest Link. Upcoming entries include Jimmy Fallon's That's My Jam, Small Fortune and docuseries The New World. He oversees a portfolio that includes overall deals with some 40 producers, including Jennifer Lopez, The Roots and Amy Poehler, among others.

Here's Igbokwe's memo to staff: Hey Everyone,

Please join me in welcoming the Universal Television Alternative Studios team to our Universal Studio Group family!

Beginning today, UTAS will be moving under our studio group umbrella and studio president Toby Gorman will join my USG leadership team.  Toby will continue to oversee development, domestic sales strategy and creative affairs, while collaborating closely across all areas of production, casting, business affairs and international commercial development for UTAS.

In the last few years, UTAS has grown its unscripted and alternative formats slate exponentially adding series like “The Wall,” “World of Dance,” “The Titan Games,” “Songland” and “Making It” to their roster. They also house numerous overall deals with some talent straddling unscripted and scripted projects across UTAS and Universal Television.

Now, with UTV, UCP, NBCUniversal International Studios and UTAS under the same umbrella we can further support our creators’ ambitions to develop and produce great television – no matter the format.

We are so lucky to be adding Toby and his innovative team to our studio group and I look forward to collaborating with everyone at UTAS to further ignite our unscripted business.