Bartlett, Blumenfeld to leave ITV Studios

Clears way for Kevin Lygo to take up creative reins

LONDON -- Uncertainty hovers over ITV's international production business ITV Studios after senior staff were told Wednesday that ITV Studios director of formats Remy Blumenfeld and ITV Studios managing director Lee Bartlett will leave later this summer.

The move, announced at a staff leadership breakfast by CEO Adam Crozier, clears the way for former Channel 4 director of programming Kevin Lygo to take up the creative reins across all local and international production for ITV.

Crozier has appointed former Disney executive Maria Kyriacou to the new role of managing director of ITV Studios Global Entertainment, reporting to a new chief operating officer of ITV Studios who has yet to be hired.

But insiders believe that the changes take no account of the complexity of the internationally facing division's partnerships and relationships, which include landmark deals with such partners as China's Hunan TV and Sony in India as well as an array of deals such as its tie-up with Pulse Films for smash hit "Pineapple Dance Studios."

"It has taken two years just to get all the dysfunctional parts of this business working together and with the outside world and now it is going to be all change again," said one ITV executive.

ITV's international production and formats division has been one of the few bright stars in the troubled commercial broadcaster's firmament.

In the past four years the division has rolled out such global successes as "Hell's Kitchen," "Dancing on Ice," and "Braniac" -- which together air in over 150 countries -- at a time when ITV's domestic performance over the past two years has been mired in gloom.

In the year to the end of March the international production business revenues soared by 41% to £138 million ($209 million), with a stable of new formats that includes "Four Weddings," "Come Dine With Me" and "May The Best House Win," which have ramped up their presence from 12 to 47 territories in the last couple of years.

Bartlett -- a former Fox executive who took up the role of running ITV's production business two years -- is understood to be returning to the U.S.

Blumenfeld, who joined ITV Studios two years with reputation for talent management, was the founder of Amaze TV and Brighter Pictures, which he later sold to reality king John de Mol.

ITV's Crozier delivered the news to the broadcaster's 150 senior staff at a leadership breakfast where he gave his first comprehensive briefing to staff since taking over earlier this year.

"He went through every possible circle of ITV's business and basically gave a fail grade in every category," said one person at the meeting."

Crozier told staff at the meeting that they would have to undergo compulsory psychometric testing over the next few months as well as meet with external appraisal teams to evaluate their skills.