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One of the most influential players in unscripted television just got a much bigger gig. Meredith Ahr, the head of Universal Television Alternative Studio, has been promoted to now oversee unscripted output at the broadcast network as well. She fills the vacancy left by her longtime boss Paul Telegdy, who was elevated to co-chairman of NBC at the top of the fall season.
Ahr’s rise at NBCUniversal has been a steady one. She began with the company as a page in 2001 and most recently launched the reality-focused studio in 2016. While there, she ordered World of Dance, Making It and the upcoming Titan Games with Dwayne Johnson.
“In just two short years, Meredith has built a studio from the ground up and expanded her already indelible impact on NBCUniversal via the genre-defining alternative content she has personally overseen,” said NBC co-chairmen George Cheeks and Telegdy, who took over for Bob Greenblatt after his September departure. “There is no one better suited to take the baton and run with this role. Meredith will continue to set the industry standard for world-class unscripted programming both domestically and abroad.”
In getting the role of president of NBC Entertainment’s Alternative and Reality Group, Ahr now commands one of the biggest unscripted portfolios in television. Adding the network to her purview means that she also will be the executive overseeing TV’s two biggest reality properties, America’s Got Talent and The Voice.
“There has never been a better time to create content that celebrates and reflects the unpredictable stories of real people,” said Ahr. “The opportunity to nurture the best and most innovative formats and ideas, regardless of studio, network, platform or daypart — all around the globe — is a dream job that I’m energized to share with the brilliant producers, talent and executives who partner with us.”
NBC’s efforts in the alternative space have been unrivaled by their competitors. In addition to the ownership push with the studio, the network simply devotes more hours to unscripted efforts and more money to big swings. (See marquee talent like Johnson, Jennifer Lopez and Ellen DeGeneres all top-lining reality projects at the network.) The studio has also started placing projects at other networks, like the recent History launch of In Search Of.
In addition to the studio and network, Ahr will also be in charge first-run syndication, including Access Hollywood and the upcoming talker The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Ahr is credited with developing the first edition of America’s Got Talent alongside Simon Cowell when he first brought it stateside. It is considered the most valuable TV format in the world.
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