Bela Bajaria Out at Universal TV
NBC drama head Pearlena Igbokwe is in talks to replace her.
Bela Bajaria is out as president of Universal Television.
The news comes mere weeks after pilot season wrapped, with Universal's series orders down from 12 in 2015 to just seven this year. That decline was particularly troubling at a time when so much focus has been placed on the significance of ownership, with in-season stacking rights becoming key to almost every 2016 deal. Making it that much harder to stomach: Of NBC's highest-rated returning series, neither The Blacklist nor Blindspot hails from Bajaria's studio. NBC drama head Pearlena Igbokwe, who was intimately involved in the latter two hits as well as Universal's Dick Wolf series, is in talks to replace her.
During Bajaria's five-year tenure at the studio, the well-liked creative was credited with building a strong comedy roster with top creators including Tina Fey and Mike Schur, both of whom added new series this month, as well as bulking up the company's outside sales output with several shows across the cable and streaming dial. Among the higher profile: The Mindy Project (now at Hulu); Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (both at Netflix); Bates Motel (A&E); and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox).
“I want to thank Bela personally for building a strong team and working so effectively to establish Universal Television as a competitive company that produces high-quality scripted series for broadcast networks as well as cable and streaming services," NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said Tuesday in a statement. "We all wish her the very best as she takes on the next phase of her career.”
Bajaria was among Greenblatt's first and most significant hires when he moved over from Showtime. The former CBS executive had the at-times tricky task of reporting both to him and to NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. For Igbokwe's part, she, too, came to NBC by way of Showtime, and has been viewed as a rising star at NBC for some time.