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Endemol North America has tapped 51 Minds executive Ben Samek as chief operating officer. The TV and digital producer behind Steve Harvey, Wipeout and other series has also upped Endemol USA’s Rob Smith to the expanded role of executive vp creative affairs. Both will report to co-chairmen and co-CEOs Cris Abrego and Charlie Corwin.
Samek will oversee business development, strategy and operations of the company — newly launched multichannel network Endemol Beyond USA included.
“Ben and I have been collaborating for over 14 years,” said Abrego. “He is a talented producer with exceptional instincts for creative and business development and execution and a keen sense of strategic vision for entertainment. He will be a driving force in capturing revenue opportunities and forging creative partnerships on behalf of Endemol North America.”
“Ben Samek is a seasoned entertainment executive with the right amount of business smarts and creative savvy,” added Corwin. “He has professional relationships at every level. We look forward to having both Ben and Rob with us as we continue to expand the Endemol North America footprint.
As for Smith, the former Endemol USA exec will now oversee all creative for unscripted television, including development and current programming. His 11-year tenure with the company includes producing such hits as Deal or No Deal and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
“Over the past decade, Rob Smith has contributed to the success of Endemol USA by shaping and delivering some of network television’s most popular unscripted content,” said Abrego. “Rob is well-liked and respected by creative talent and executives alike. Both Ben and Rob add a critical dimension to Endemol North America and will play a key role in implementing our long-term growth strategy.”
Added Corwin: “Rob Smith is a smart executive with strong creative instincts and deft negotiation skills. He has been the key point person for producers and network executives since the beginning for Endemol’s powerhouse brands like Steve Harvey, Wipeout, Deal or No Deal and Fear Factor; it is rare to find an executive with a solid track record for success in primetime, cable and in daytime syndication. He adds great insight and value to every project he oversees.”
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