Nancy Tellem Out at Microsoft as Xbox Entertainment Studios Shuts Down

Issue 1 BIZ Exec Suite Nancy Tellem - H 2013
Christopher Patey

Issue 1 BIZ Exec Suite Nancy Tellem - H 2013

Jordan Levin has also left the company

Xbox Entertainment Studios has finally closed its doors. 

Microsoft has shuttered the studio as part of a companywide restructuring that included 18,000 layoffs, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Studio chief Nancy Tellem and executive vp Jordan Levin were part of Wednesday's final round of layoffs, along with a handful of Xbox employees who had remained with the company to help shepherd projects. 

The studio's closure was first announced in July. Tellem and Levin were given some time to find new homes for some of the more developed projects. Since then, XES sold drama series Humans to AMC and shopped the studio to potential buyers, including Warner Bros. Tellem confirmed to THR in early October that she was continuing to look for strategic opportunities for the studio, though a deal has not materialized.

Despite the studio's closure, existing projects are still moving forward, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman. Digital series Halo: Nightfall will be released in November as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Meanwhile, the Steven Spielberg-produced Halo television series, which XES was hoping to bring to Showtime, has not been impacted by the closure. 

The spokeswoman says XES is committed to airing two documentaries — Atari: Game Over and The Thread — that were produced for what was meant to be a larger documentary series produced by Lightbox. 

The studio's closure comes a little more than two years after former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hired Tellem, a CBS and Warner Bros. TV veteran, to start a studio that would produce interactive content for the Xbox. But despite a flashy outing at the E3 video game conference in 2013, it took a while for the studio to get up and running. At the Digital Content NewFronts in April, Tellem touted a robust development slate, but kept Halo fans waiting for the highly anticipated live-action series. Instead, XES made its debut with a slate of summer content that included soccer reality series Every Street United and a Bonnaroo live stream.