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As Bonnie Hammer’s role grows, so does the role of her team.
Hammer, who was upped as chairman of NBCUniversal Cable post Comcast-NBC merger, announced that her top lieutenants Jeff Wachtel, head of original programming, and Chris McCumber, chief of marketing and brand strategy, have been named co-presidents of the USA network.
“USA will remain a top priority for me, and I can’t think of a better team to build on the network’s incredible momentum,” said Hammer. “Not only have Jeff and Chris performed consistently at the top of their games, their collaborative style is a critical part of USA’s DNA and a key component of the network’s success.”
The news comes as the successfully branded “Characters Welcome” network recently rounded out its fifth year as the top-rated network in basic cable, thanks to a string of scripted hits like Burn Notice, White Collar and Royal Pains. In addition to frequent praise, those ratings have translated to financial success. At last check, USA was valued at nearly $12 billion.
Wachtel, who has overseen development of all original programming for the network, has been with USA for a decade. During that tenure, the former theater producer turned veteran TV executive has had his hand in everything from Psych to Covert Affairs. He also operates as co-head of Universal Cable Prods.
On the branding side, McCumber has served as executive vp marketing, digital and brand strategy since late 2007. (He joined the company in 2001.) Among his achievements during that period: the “Characters Welcome” tagline and larger branding effort as well as the Characters Unite multiplatform campaign to combat prejudice and intolerance in America.
The pair will jointly oversee strategic direction and operations across all USA platforms, reporting to Hammer. Meantime, she will stay focused on finding an executive to step into the top position at E!, a post left open when Ted Harbert was moved into an East Coast management role post-merger.
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