Endemol North America Taps Cris Abrego, Charlie Corwin as Co-CEOs

Cris Abrego and Charlie Corwin

The former 51 Minds CEO and Original Media CEO will replace David Goldberg, and will oversee all of Endemol's North American operations, including the production companies responsible for "Honey Boo Boo," "Swamp People" and "Real Housewives of Atlanta."

Endemol North America has tapped new leadership.

Following the early September news that CEO David Goldberg would depart, the Los Angeles-based Endemol Group subsidiary has selected 51 Minds chief Cris Abrego and Original Media boss Charlie Corwin to become co-chairmen and co-CEOs of the company. The pair, both internal candidates as Endemol acquired majority stakes in their respective companies years earlier, will work alongside Goldberg until the year's end.

In their new role, Abrego and Corwin will oversee all of the firm's North American operations, including Endemol USA production entities Authentic Entertainment (Here Comes Honey Boo Boo), True Entertainment (Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Endemol Studios (Low Winter Sun) as well as their former companies. Their focus will include increasing the company's output, both in terms of scripted and unscripted programming. (An announcement regarding management appointments at 51 and Original is expected to come in the next few months.)

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"Charlie and Cris are world class creative entrepreneurs who have built their respective companies through the creation and production of great, must-watch content during their time within Endemol," Endemol Group president Tim Hincks said in a statement announcing the news Monday. He added: "They combine energy, ambition and vision with an understanding of the values that define Endemol. We couldn't ask for stronger candidates to lead our North American operations into a new phase of accelerated growth and creativity."

The shake-up comes at a particularly challenging time for the broadcast reality business. Outside of NBC's The Voice, still red-hot in its fifth season, the Big Four networks have struggled to launch a new juggernaut over the past several years. Of late, the nets have had to rely instead on veteran, if aging, stalwarts, including Endemol's Big Brother. By contrast, cable, with its performance expectations considerably lower, has found success with unscripted shows including Endemol's Honey Boo Boo and the Real Housewives franchise. The company has shrewdly diversified its portfolio, too, pushing into scripted programming through its Endemol Studios (AMC's Hell on Wheels) and into daytime fare with the strong 2012 bow of Steve Harvey. (Goldberg will continue to consult on the latter, in which he's been integrally involved from the outset.)

Abrego, who co-founded 51 Minds in 2003, is often credited with creating the subgenre of "celebreality," staring with VH1's breakout hit The Surreal Life. Endemol acquired a majority stake in 51 Minds in the spring of 2008, after which Abrego continued to diversify the company's output with programming for networks including E! (Scouted), CBS (Same Name) and CMT (Redneck Island). More recently, Abrego served as an executive producer on ABC's Whodunnit? as well as on Fox's Does Someone Have to Go?

"The past five years working with Endemol have been incredible, and I couldn't be more excited about my new leadership role with the company," noted Abrego. "I look forward to working alongside my friend and colleague Charlie Corwin as we look to further build upon the creativity that Endemol has become known for around the globe."

For his part, Corwin has had success in both film (The Squid and the Whale, Half Nelson) and TV. Among the latter: TLC's Miami Ink, along with spinoffs LA Ink and NY Ink, as well as History's Swamp People, Bravo's The Rachel Zoe Project and Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men for AMC. Endemol acquired a majority stake in Original Media in the winter of 2007.

Added Corwin: "As a member of the Endemol family for the past six years, I've seen first-hand how the company's dynamic and far-sighted approach makes it a key part of global entertainment today. This new role is an amazing opportunity for further innovation and growth, especially as I'll be working alongside Cris, who's one of the most talented people in the business."

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