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Lionsgate Television is consolidating its unscripted business under Pilgrim Media Group’s Craig Piligian.
The Pilgrim CEO has signed a new three-year agreement to remain with the Lionsgate-backed unscripted studio. As part of his new deal, Piligian has been named chair of Pilgrim Media Group and will serve in the newly created role of president of Lionsgate Nonfiction Television.
While Lionsgate has a nearly two-thirds ownership stake in Piligian’s Pilgrim, the studio has not had a dedicated unscripted exec since Jennifer O’Connell departed in May 2019. In the interim, Alice Dickens-Koblin has overseen unscripted at both Lionsgate TV and the studio’s premium cable network, Starz. No layoffsf are associated with the merger of Lionsgate TV’s unscripted and Pilgrim.
Piligian will now be charged with overseeing Lionsgate’s unscripted television business, developing new nonfiction series and managing its partnerships with unscripted television producers. He inherits a slate of Lionsgate TV unscripted shows including HBO Max’s House of Ho, Netflix’s Selling Sunset and Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up, among others.
Piligian will continue to report to Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer for all things Pilgrim, which produces series including Ghost Hunters, American Chopper and Wicked Tuna, among several others. Lionsgate invested $200 million in Pilgrim in 2015 and has steadily increased its stake in the company since. For Lionsgate TV fare, Piligian will report to Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs.
“Craig is a great partner, a savvy strategist and a leading creative force in the unscripted world,” Feltheimer said. “This is an opportunity to continue simplifying our business by bringing all of our unscripted operations together under Craig’s oversight while enabling him to continue overseeing Pilgrim’s world-class nonfiction brand.”
Piligian launched Pilgrim in 1997 after serving as an original exec producer on CBS’ mega-hit Survivor. He’s been a force in the unscripted space since after starting his career in the news business. The dual role will see Piligian better integrate content from both companies as Lionsgate lands a seasoned unscripted veteran to oversee the rapidly growing genre.
“Pilgrim is a powerhouse in unscripted content so we’re fortunate to have the experience and expertise of its leader as we continue to fill our nonfiction programming pipeline,” Beggs said. “We look forward to drawing upon Craig’s wealth of creative relationships in building our unscripted business alongside Pilgrim as a major player in the nonfiction space.”
It’s worth noting that Dickens-Koblin will focus exclusively on Starz as senior vp and head of unscripted for the premium cable network. She will report to Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch, though she will continue to oversee Lionsgate’s high-profile 1619 Project for the company. The documentary, which has Oprah Winfrey, The New York Times and Roger Ross Williams attached, recently sold to Hulu.
“It’s a pleasure to work with Kevin Beggs and Sandra Stern, and I look forward to collaborating with the rest of their television team in developing premium nonfiction programming for Lionsgate,” said Piligian. “I also welcome the opportunity to continue partnering with Jon Feltheimer, a one-of-a-kind CEO who has created an entrepreneurial and collaborative culture at Lionsgate in which Pilgrim has been empowered to flourish.”
The Lionsgate move is the latest in an industry-wide effort to consolidate executive ranks as companies look to slim down and restructure to better control content and sales.
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