Gabriel Lewis Departs as Head of AOL Studios

"Park Bench With Steve Buscemi"

Nate Hayden, formerly vp development at FremantleMedia, has been tapped to run originals and branded content for AOL.

Gabriel Lewis has left his post as head of AOL Studios and AOL Originals. 

Following his departure, Nate Hayden has been appointed to lead the New York-based tech firm's original series as vp originals and branded entertainment. Hayden was previously vp development at FremantleMedia, where he led cable development. Prior to Fremantle, he was a producer and director at MTV Networks and Mark Burnett Productions. 

"I'm thrilled to spearhead AOL's original and branded programming efforts at a time of real momentum for AOL Studios," Hayden said. "Our voice has resonated with viewers, and it has been great to see the creative community take note as well with our recent Emmy nominations."

Lewis, who became head of AOL Studios in January 2009 and head of AOL Originals in 2013, has been with AOL in some capacity since 2004. Along with Roy Sekoff, he helped create HuffPost Live, the streaming network from AOL-owned The Huffington Post, in 2012. 

An AOL spokeswoman said Lewis has left the company to "pursue other opportunities."

AOL also has hired Naomi Yasuda as senior director of AOL Studios. She will lead AOL's New York and Los Angeles production facilities. Both Hayden and Yasuda will be based in Los Angeles. 

AOL video president Ran Harnevo said "momentum is still going strong," following AOL's Digital Content NewFronts presentation in New York, where it touted new shows that included Park Bench With Steve Buscemi and Zoe Saldana's My Hero.

"Both Nate and Naomi are committed to creating the engaging, authentic content that AOL viewers know and love while also constantly innovating and pushing beyond the status quo," he added. "I couldn't think of better candidates to shepherd the AOL Originals team into the next chapter of its growth."

AOL has significantly expanded its original video production over the last two years. The studio's 2013 slate, which included the Sarah Jessica Parker-produced city.ballet, has had more than 167 million views as of June. An adaptation of Nicole Richie's #CandidlyNicole, meanwhile, was picked up to series at VH1.

This year, AOL added several new programs to its roster, including its first long-form project, the docuseries Connected, which will follow the lives of five New Yorkers. 

Twitter: @NatJarv