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As expected, Sony Pictures Television co-presidents of U.S. programming and production Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht have been promoted at the studio following Steve Mosko’s departure on Wednesday.
The duo, who will continue to oversee programming and production, will now take on additional duties previously overseen by departing chairman Mosko, including worldwide television. They will report directly to Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who told investors in November 2013 that Sony as a whole was shifting its emphasis from film to “higher-margin television.”
Mosko will transition to a consulting role with the studio. As part of a structural realignment of the television unit, leadership of SPT will be shared among Van Amburg and Erlicht; Andy Kaplan, president of worldwide networks; Keith Le Goy, president of distribution; and Amy Carney, president of advertiser sales and research. Each will now report directly to Lynton.
The promotions for Van Amburg and Erlicht comes as the duo’s contract was set to expire in 2017. They last re-upped as presidents of U.S. programming and production in 2014. Van Amburg joined the studio in 1997 as a director of development, while Erlicht first boarded in 2002 as senior vp development and programming. Together, the well-liked duo has helped double SPT’s slate of original broadcast series, most recently adding CBS’ Kevin James comedy Kevin Can Wait, NBC’s Blacklist spinoff and Shawn Ryan/Eric Kripke entry Timeless as well as ABC’s Notorious, which scored the prime post-Grey’s Anatomy slot.
This past season, the studio had five series ordered (up one vs. a year ago). That’s a rare feat for an independent studio in the vertical integration era where broadcast networks are leaning heavily toward owning their own shows and buying largely from their studio counterparts. The company has a total of eight scripted series on broadcast, including ABC’s The Goldbergs, and cable fare that includes AMC’s Preacher and Better Call Saul, Starz’s Outlander, Netflix’s Bloodline and The Get Down and Showtime’s Masters of Sex, as well as PlayStation’s first scripted series, Powers.
Mosko has exited the company a year after he was promoted from president to chairman of Sony Pictures Television. Insiders say friction between Lynton and Mosko were partially to blame for the executive’s departure. While he was in the midst of conversations about his future with TV’s largest independent studio — his contract expired in November — Mosko instead opted to leave the company.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that there were a series of strained meetings and months of conversations following the Sony hack, in which a number of terse emails between Lynton and Mosko were made public. “There wasn’t a lot of love between those two guys and there wasn’t a lot of respect,” a source tells THR of their relationship following a series of stories in the trades that positioned Mosko as the company’s bulletproof savior.
That didn’t sit well with studio executives who didn’t appreciate that Mosko was being positioned as the key to SPE’s success vs. SPT as a whole, sources say.
Insiders also note that Lynton had made promises to Van Amburg and Erlicht, whose SPT deal is up next year. Van Amburg was heavily courted for the top job at Turner that eventually went to Kevin Reilly.
“[Lynton] wanted Zack and Jamie to be great and grow with the company,” a source notes. “Michael is coming through on his promises.”
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