Buccieri off to Granada America

Twentieth TV programmer will be president, CEO

In a surprise move, Twentieth Television president of programming Paul Buccieri has left the company to take the reins of Granada America as president and CEO.

At ITV's Granada America, Buccieri will replace David Gyngell, who abruptly exited the post in September after a two-year stint to return to Australia and take his old job as CEO of Nine Network.

Buccieri, who will start at Granada America after the holidays, will report to Dawn Airey, ITV managing director of global content. It was Airey's recent appointment to oversee all of the British broadcaster's activities outside the U.K., including Granada America, that allegedly led to Gyngell's departure.

"This is a critical role in ensuring ITV's international growth by creating and delivering high-quality content to American audiences," Airey said. "Paul has a superb track record in producing hit shows for the U.S. networks."

As CEO, Buccieri -- the first American to head ITV's U.S. producing outpost -- will oversee Granada America's team of producers on the West and East coasts in the development of new reality and scripted series and formats, as well as the exploitation of other ITV formats created in the company's production units in the U.K., Germany and Australia.

Based in Los Angeles, Buccieri also will have a seat on the board of Jaffe Braunstein Entertainment, Granada's U.S. partner in the scripted business.

Sources close to Twentieth Television said Buccieri was well-liked at the company and described his departure as a blow to News Corp.'s first-run syndication division.

During his three-year stint at Twentieth, Buccieri is credited with building up the company's court show staple, which includes "Judge Alex," "Christina's Court" and the veteran "Divorce Court."

Buccieri also developed English-language telenovelas for first-run syndication that subsequently were used in the launch of News Corp.'s MyNetwork TV, and he experimented with the interactive game format "My Games Fever."

"He is someone who thinks outside the box," an observer said.

Twentieth already is looking for a replacement for Buccieri, whose exit comes only a month before NATPE.

"I enjoyed my years at News Corp. and learned a great deal at Twentieth, but this gives me the opportunity to run my own division, which I consider to be the next step in my career," Buccieri said. "I also saw this as a tremendous opportunity to go back into primetime and cable development and a chance to be part in company where I was more directly involved on the international side."

Between executive stints at Chris-Craft/United TV and Twentieth, Buccieri worked as an independent producer, shepherding such series as "Anything for Love" and "Performing As ..." for Fox, "Girl Makes Band" for MTV and "Extreme Variety" for NBC.

Through his production deal with Endemol USA, he served as executive producer on NBC's "I Want to Be a Hilton" and Fox's "The Next Great Champ."

Granada America is having a strong year with the success of "Hell's Kitchen" for Fox, which was assigned the plum post-"American Idol" Tuesday 9 p.m. slot, and its spinoff "Kitchen Nightmares," which had a solid fall launch. The company also recently produced NBC's reality series "Phenomenon."

On the scripted side, Granada America is co-producing "Eleventh Hour," Jerry Bruckheimer's new high-profile sci-fi series for CBS.

Granada America's portfolio also includes the reality series "Nanny 911" for Fox, "The First 48" and "SWAT" for A&E and "Celebrity Fit Club" for VH1.