Humanitas Prods. hires Mandalay TV exec

Robin Budd will lead efforts in developing television projects

Robin Budd
Robin Budd, formerly senior vp at Mandalay TV, has been named executive vp at Humanitas Prods. and will lead the nonprofit's efforts in developing projects for the small screen.

The unit was formed last year to develop projects that reflect the Humanitas brand. It now has $1 million from an alliance of national advertisers to jump-start its efforts and a board of the town's top showrunners to shepherd projects.

The initiative is in its formative phase but is arguably ambitious: to become a staging ground for shows that can bring together key producers, new or "aged-out" writers and money from key advertisers.

The appointment of Budd is being unveiled Tuesday by Humanitas executive director Cathleen Young and president John Wells.

"The goal of Humanitas Prods. is to develop outstanding programming that is entertaining and uplifting," writer-producer Wells said. "We needed a seasoned producer with a creative vision in line with the kinds of stories Humanitas has honored for over three decades. We've found all that in Robin Budd."

For its first project under Budd, "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes will develop a one-hour drama pilot to be written by screenwriter-actor Cullen Douglas ("CSI: NY," "Grey's Anatomy").

Budd will represent the Humanitas team in developing projects for its joint content-development fund with the Association of National Advertisers Alliance for Family Entertainment. The organizations partnered last year, creating the fund to find inspiring, classic TV stories.

The fund is a partnership between key Alliance members and Humanitas' board of trustees, consisting of 22 TV and film writers, among them Neal Baer, Carol Mendelsohn, John Sacret Young, Damon Lindelof, David Shore, Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick and Wells.

"This effort is not about advertisers' dumbing down or homogenizing the creativity of showrunners and writers but about getting behind projects at an early stage," a source close to the foundation said. It's also in theory another way networks can access material that is more cost-effective.

Budd was senior vp of Mandalay TV from 2007-10. During her tenure, she developed pilots for several broadcast and cable nets.

In addition to its project-development efforts, Humanitas sponsors an annual prize founded in 1974 to encourage and sustain screenwriters. Since inception, it has awarded $2.8 million to about 250 writers.