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More than a month after Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg stunned industry observers with their move from Sony Pictures Television to Apple, the independent studio has found their replacements.
Jeff Frost has been promoted from executive vp U.S. business affairs to the newly announced role of president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, the production side of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s TV business. He will report to SPE chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra.
At the same time, Jason Clodfelter and Chris Parnell have been elevated from executive vp drama development and programming to co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television Studios. They will report directly to Frost.
While it sounds as if the independent studio is shifting from two presidents in Van Amburg and Erlicht, Vinciquerra has restructured the position to create what the company is calling a new “office of the president” to oversee all U.S. production and programming for Sony Pictures Television. The role leaves the business side to Frost and gives Parnell and Clodfelter creative oversight of the studio, including drama and comedy, reality and syndication, scripted and current programming, talent and casting, and movies and miniseries as well as TriStar Television. SPT’s International Productions will continue to be led by Wayne Garvie, chief creative officer at SPT International Production. He will now report to Vinciquerra.
“Jeff, Chris and Jason are the perfect team to run our U.S. television business,” Vinciquerra said Monday in a statement. “Over the last several weeks, I have been able to see first-hand the strong leadership qualities possessed by Jeff, Chris and Jason, the high energy and vitality of everyone in their groups and throughout SPT and the outstanding collaboration that exists between them all. I am confident they will not only grow our robust television business, but also strengthen the integration between SPT and SPE’s other lines of business and with the other Sony Group companies.”
Added Parnell and Clodfelter in a joint statement: “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last several years and are excited about building on that in this new role. We want to thank Tony for this opportunity and look forward to working with Jeff and the entire SPT team to grow the roster of high-quality programming the industry and audiences have come to expect from SPT.”
Frost first joined Sony in 2008 from ABC Studios where he served as senior vp business affairs. During his role as executive vp U.S. business affairs at SPT, he was charged with overseeing strategic counsel on the company’s network, cable and syndication productions as well as managing SPT’s negotiations between the studio and its network, production companies, talent and other outside companies.
“I am thrilled to take on this new role at SPT and honored to work with some of the most talented and creative individuals and teams in the business,” said Frost. “I am particularly excited about working with Chris and Jason. The landscape of our business continues to rapidly evolve, and SPT is in an ideal position to take advantage of industry shifts due to our diversity of programming and ability to air across a broad array of broadcast, cable and digital platforms. We have had great success over the past 10 years and I look forward to working with the team to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead. I want to thank Tony for this opportunity.”
Parnell and Clodfelter joined SPT in 2003 and 2006, respectively. Together, they have developed series including Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, Outlander, Bloodline, Master of Sex, Preacher, The Get Down, Damages and more. Clodfelter previously served as vp development at Spelling TV as well as director of development at John Wells Productions.
The decision to promote from within comes as little surprise after Vinciquerra previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he would get to know the lay of the land at Sony TV before looking to outside candidates. At the time of Erlicht and Van Amburg’s June departure, Vinciquerra had been on job for less than a month and had not really met much of the TV side as many were fresh off of trips to New York for the broadcast upfront presentations. Clodfelter and Parnell had been considered top candidates for the role. Sources tell THR that Frost had been set to follow Erlicht and Van Amburg to Apple but opted to remain at Sony TV instead.
The promotions come as the broadcast development season is poised to get underway. With the elevations of Parnell and Clodfelter, producers and networks alike have a well-known face to both pitch to and buy from.
In the era of vertical integration, Sony TV faces an uphill battle as broadcast and cable networks as well as streaming services begin to concentrate more on ownership. Sony TV has focused on co-ownership — meaning giving up half the profits — as a way to get shows on the air.
Under Vinciquerra, Sony TV will now be broken out into individual units focused on U.S. and international after Van Amburg and Erlicht had previously headed worldwide for the studio after Steve Mosko’s departure.
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