Weinberg, Pope out amid NBC Uni layoffs


The wave of across-the-board layoffs at NBC Universal has hit the top ranks at third-place network NBC.

In a major shakeup, the network's exec vp and head of scripted programming Teri Weinberg and Universal Studios president Katherine Pope are exiting their posts. Angela Bromstad, meanwhile, is returning to Los Angeles.

That, combined with the pending departure of NBC's head of unscripted television Craig Plestis, represents a clean sweep of the network's top programming positions under co-chairman Ben Silverman, a year-and-a-half into his tenure.

Pope's predecessor Bromstad, who headed the Peacock's sister studio before moving to London in summer 2007 to launch an NBC Uni TV production unit, is returning for a key post, probably overseeing scripted programming for the network and the studio, while BBC Worldwide Prods. head Paul Telegdy is wrapping negotiations to become NBC's new head of alternative programming.

NBC is expected to make an announcement this week.

The executive changes follow a shaky autumn for NBC, which has struggled in the ratings with such new shows as "My Own Worst Enemy" and "Knight Rider" as well as some of its strongest series, including "Heroes."

The shakeup is part of a major restructuring by Silverman, who despite the ratings downturn enjoys support from NBC Uni brass for his entrepreneurial skills and is signing a new deal to continue at the network beyond the end of his current contract in June.

The former agent and producer, who describes himself as "a boy of the world," is looking to make NBC more of a global content company.

After years of on-and-off discussions, UMS, which was downsized this year when the cable production division was put under NBC Uni Cable Entertainment president Bonnie Hammer, is said to be merging with NBC under Bromstad. A similar move has already taken place on the cable side, where the programming chiefs of the two scripted networks under Hammer, USA Network's Jeff Wachtel and Sci Fi Channel's Mark Stern, were named co-heads of the studio.

In addition to her responsibilities on the domestic side, Bromstad is expected to continue to have a hand in NBC Uni's international TV operations.

Meanwhile, Telegdy, a Brit who oversaw acquisitions for BBC Worldwide Prods. as well as the unit's flagship format "Dancing With the Stars" on ABC, not only will run NBC's alternative department but also likely will oversee format acquisition and international co-productions.

Pope's exit is effective immediately, while Weinberg, whose deal is up in June, is expected to stay through the transition and see her projects through development before leaving to return to producing.

There was no sign of what was to come Friday morning when Pope and Weinberg attended The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment breakfast. Within a couple of hours, rumors about their dismissal began to circulate.

For Pope and Weinberg, their first seasons at their new jobs were affected by the WGA strike, which derailed last year's development season. Among their joint efforts, only the modestly rated comedy "Kath & Kim" will make it past February, though the drama "Kings" has not yet premiered.

Pope also has the UMS- produced new comedy "Worst Week" on CBS, which has seen critical praise but low ratings.

Well-liked among agents and producers, Pope was a rising star at NBC, with a string of promotions that took her from an associate at NBC Studios to president of the studio within seven years.

The top programming post at NBC marked the first executive job for Weinberg, who worked under Silverman at his Reveille Prods. She was promoted in February to oversee current programming in addition to scripted development.

During her three years atop NBC Uni TV Studio, Bromstad shepherded the development of such series as NBC's "Heroes," "The Office," "Friday Night Lights," "30 Rock" and "Life" as well as the launch of Fox's "House."

NBC Uni is in the midst of eliminating nearly 500 jobs, or 3% of the company's work force, as part of a cost-cutting plan announced two months ago. (partialdiff)