NBC PR Chief Richard Licata to Depart

Rich Licata

He'll stay on as a consultant for projects including 'Peter Pan Live'

Richard Licata is moving on.

NBC Entertainment's executive vp communications announced Tuesday in a personal memo to the staff that he will be exiting the company after a three-year period in which NBC clawed its way back to the top. A close confidant of NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, with whom he also worked closely at Fox and Showtime, Licata will stay on as a consultant to the network for projects including the early December live musical installment of Peter Pan. 

The news comes after a particularly troubling period in Licata's personal life, with his father passing away earlier this year. In the staff memo, the PR chief noted: "Sometimes life has a funny way of interrupting life.… [My father's] last months were powerful if not glamorous. The impact of those last days brought into focus, for me, the pain and peace of one's final moments, but more importantly the joys of living."

In that same note, Licata, arguably best known for his awards campaign expertise, talked about his desire to be part of another rebuilding process, much as he was at Fox, Showtime and, most recently, NBC. The latter ended the 2013-14 season at No. 1 for the first time in a decade, thanks to hits including The Voice and The Blacklist. Also noteworthy from a PR perspective was a surprisingly smooth late-night transition and a ratings smash for the network's first live musical event, The Sound of Music.

Licata began his three-decade career in the industry at HBO, and in that time has worked on shows including The X-Files, Beverly Hills, 90210, The Simpsons, The Shield, Monk and Dexter. In 1997, he served as a producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO film Gia, starring Angelina Jolie. Early on, Licata was also an entertainment reporter and editor for The New York Daily News.

Licata's memo:

Dear Team:

As we all enjoy the satisfying view from the summit we've climbed together over the last three years, it is with the deepest respect for that journey that I tell you that I will be leaving NBC Entertainment shortly.

Sometimes life has a funny way of interrupting life. As some of you know, my father passed away recently after a long struggle with old age. His last months were powerful if not glamorous. The impact of those last days brought into focus, for me, the pain and peace of one's final moments, but more importantly the joys of living.

One of the lessons of my father's life, and one that he passed on to me, was the satisfaction of rebuilding something from the ground up. It's a passion for making things better that led me into the trenches first at FOX and then later Showtime. There, in those trenches, just like here at NBC, was Bob Greenblatt who quickly became a trusted colleague and then eventually also a great friend. We shared the excitement of moving two networks forward when all odds were against us, and in some sense the greatest stories ever told are comeback stories.

In the months since my father's death, I've reflected on his life, and my own. The comeback story that Bob and all of us have experienced here at NBC is extraordinary, and the colleagues that I have had the privilege to work alongside is a Dream Team second to none — Len Fogge, Kathy Mandato, George Cheeks, Jeff Bader, Brad Melnick, Jen Salke, Paul Telegdy, Bela Bajaria. Amazing. And my team in PR: Entertainment, Corporate, Talent Relations, Photography, Media Village, and my friends at NBC Universal — they know how special they are.

The satisfaction I've felt in working with all of you to take NBC back to #1 has led me to want to hit reset; to pause for a moment and find something to rebuild again. To get my blood pumping climbing a new summit. So while I'll still be poking around NBC for the next couple of months, consulting and helping out on Peter Pan and whatever else Bob needs, I will also be preparing for a new and exciting adventure

Who knows? Maybe some of us will get to work together again making something great. Until then and with admiration,


Greenblatt's memo:

It is with very mixed feelings that I announce the departure of Richard Licata from NBC Entertainment. I did everything I could to keep him here, but he's decided to move out of the day-to-day running of the public relations and communications department and take some time off.

Some of you know that a few months ago he lost his father after a prolonged illness and I knew it was only a matter of time before he wanted to make a change in his life. But he also made a commitment to get the fall schedule launched this year. (So far, so good!) And I'm pleased to say that he'll continue to consult with us on various projects, including PETER PAN, which is a very big priority for us this year.

When I asked Rich to come over from Showtime a few years ago, he was excited about the challenge of helping to rebuild NBC and promised that he would do everything in his power to help get us back to #1. Well, mission accomplished. I'll always give him credit for being one of the key components of making that happen.

He and I began working together over twenty years ago at FBC where he helped build the fourth network into something that the industry started to take seriously, which was not an easy task. And when I went to Showtime, I felt he would also make a huge impact there too. And Showtime would not now be considered a premium cable channel on the level of HBO without the hard work he did there. (Of course he knew some of HBO's tricks too, since he worked there prior to FBC.)

When I took on the challenge of moving NBC out of last place, it only made sense that Rich would be part of that as well. And we couldn't have done it without him. He's creative and passionate, and everyone here — including the heads of the other departments at NBC Entertainment — knows how much of a friend he is to them personally, as well as what a great colleague he is when we're all in the trenches together.

With enormous gratitude, Rich, and on behalf of this whole company, thanks for everything! And I'm sure we'll work together again down the road.