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The team behind broadcast’s most successful and consistent reality lineup is staying put. NBC Entertainment on Wednesday announced that reality chief Paul Telegdy and alternative exec Meredith Ahr have extended their contracts, also earning new titles for both and an in-house studio for the growing department.
Telegdy will now serve as president, alternative and reality group, for NBC Entertainment, while Ahr becomes president of Universal Television Alternative Studio. The latter, also under Telegdy’s purview, will supply NBC and other networks with series in the reality and alternative space.
“Paul is in a class by himself in the area of alternative programming, which is one of the biggest strengths of NBC and a key reason why we have returned to a leadership position among networks,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, to whom Telegdy will continue to report. “He has a vision of the future and his finger is on the pulse of what is exciting in this space, and it was a priority of mine to continue to tap him as a major resource for this company. Part of the strategy was setting up a studio, to be run by Meredith, that will provide us with the biggest reality hits of the future, whether on NBC or other programming services and to territories around the world. Paul comes to us with a global understanding of this business and I’m pleased that he will continue to make this company his home after such a winning track record that began so dramatically with The Voice.”
The announcement of the Universal Television Alternative Studio comes at a pivotal time for broadcast networks, scrambling to own as much of the series they put on the air as possible. Up until now, the majority of reality and alternative fare has come from outside production companies (see NBC flagship The Voice, a co-production between Mark Burnett’s MGM and Warner Bros. TV). Just last week, Universal Television switched things up on the scripted side, replacing Bela Bajaria with Pearlena Igbokwe in an attempt to get more NBC-owned series on NBC.
NBC has had atypical success in the reality space under Telegdy. While the rest of the Big Four networks have struggled to launch new reality hits, reliant on the old guard, NBC saw The Voice assume status as the biggest reality show on TV after its 2011 launch. Summers have also belonged to NBC with a combination of America’s Got Talent and American Ninja Warrior, and the recent launch of Little Big Shots was the biggest thing to happen in the reality space in half a decade.
But NBC doesn’t own any of those shows, a fact that surely led to the desire for this new alternative studio.
“Meredith is an exceptional creative executive and leader, with the rare combination of being fiercely competitive, smart and humble,” said Telegdy, praising his No. 2. “There is not a successful alternative franchise on this network that hasn’t been influenced and energized by her expertise and insight into what audiences crave. Her passion for innovation is what has kept our entire division on the cutting edge, and that is reflected by the genre-defining shows she has personally developed and managed for this network for the last 12 years. We are all extremely confident that Meredith, in her new role, will create opportunities for strategic partnerships that will produce content for all platforms and deliver formats that translate to any marketplace.”
Under Ahr, senior vice presidents Enrique Guillen, George Sealey and Fernando Hernandez will all work at the studio to develop and bring in talent.
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