Pearlena Igbokwe Named President of Universal TV
The former head of drama at NBC will segue to the studio and replace Bela Bajaria.
It's official: NBC drama head Pearlena Igbokwe has been tapped to replace Bela Bajaria as president of the network's studio counterpart Universal Television.
The news was expected and comes shortly after Bajaria exited the studio following a five-year run.
Igbokwe will move from the network to the studio and report to NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. She begins immediately. The well-liked executive previously served as exec vp drama development at NBC. Igbokwe joined the network in 2012 following a 20-year tenure at Showtime, where she worked under NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt during his oversight of the premium cabler. She was promoted in 2014 when NBC reverted to combined drama and comedy development and current departments following Tal Rabinowitz's departure.
"Pearlena’s remarkable track record in drama programming at NBC over the last few years made it clear that she was the ideal choice to lead the studio into its next phase of growth,” Salke said Friday in a statement. “Her leadership, vision and taste have resulted in an impressive string of drama successes — from The Blacklist, Blindspot, Chicago Med, Shades of Blue and the upcoming series This Is Us, Timeless and Taken — that coincides with our return to a top position among networks. Pearlena also comes to the job with a wealth of experience in television movies and comedy and we have no doubt she will lead our prolific studio forward in a dynamic way.”
The move to promote from within comes as NBC — like other broadcasters — is looking to have a greater ownership stake in its programming. This past season, Universal saw its series pickups drop dramatically from 12 a year ago to just seven this year — six of them at NBC — as Bajaria expanded the studio's cable and streaming roster.
At Showtime, Igbokwe developed Dexter and Masters of Sex and supervised series including Nurse Jackie and The Big C. The executive previously was a member of THR's Next Gen class.