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Endemol Shine’s Carolyn G. Bernstein is heading to National Geographic Channel.
The news comes as Global CEO Courteney Monroe recently unveiled her ambitious plans to elevate the network’s programming output with a push toward premium fare fueled by a $725 million investment by parent company 21st Century Fox. Bernstein will come aboard in early January as executive vp, head of global scripted development and production, and will report to Monroe.
“We are incredibly fortunate Carolyn is joining the network to oversee our scripted efforts,” said Monroe, who spent recent months casting a wide search. “Her vast experience, exceptional creative taste and strong industry relationships will enable us to reach unprecedented new heights with our scripted endeavors in ways that support our brand and new programming vision.”
Added Bernstein, a veteran programmer whose résumé includes FX’s The Bridge, Fox’s Gracepoint and HBO’s forthcoming thriller Utopia: “The direction the network is headed is incredibly exciting, and I cannot wait to play a part in evolving the scripted content strategy.”
That evolving strategy for Nat Geo, a growth priority for new 21st Century Fox CEOs James and Lachlan Murdoch, was first outlined by Monroe in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. While the majority of the channel’s output will remain unscripted, Monroe is looking to amp up its scripted fare, too. In both arenas, the focus now will be on bigger budgets, higher production quality and name talent behind the camera. Recent examples include scripted effort Saints & Strangers, which picked up a few Critic’s Choice nominations earlier this week, as well as upcoming series Last Men Out from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson and In Harm’s Way from Mark Gordon.
In accepting the position, Bernstein will now move onto the Fox lot, where her husband Nick Grad serves as president of original programming at FX Networks and FX Productions. Given the corporate set-up, with Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice guiding Monroe and Grad’s boss John Landgraf, FXP is poised produce much of Bernstein’s forthcoming fare. Monroe, who points to FX’s The Americans as a series that gives her professional envy, has said that Nat Geo’s scripted efforts won’t “have to be history, but some degree of factual authenticity [will be] important.”
Bernstein has been at what is now Endemol Shine Studios since 2007, where she serves as executive vp. She initially joined as exec vp scripted TV, and has watched as the company has undergone a merger and a series of related personnel changes. Prior to that, the Brown graduate was senior vp alternative programming and then executive vp drama development at The WB. During Bernstein’s tenure there, she developed such series as Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill and Smallville. She also worked in drama development at Columbia TriStar TV, where she developed Dawson’s Creek, along with previous stints at FX, Fox and CAA.
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