NBC Exec Bloodletting: Studio-Net Merger?

Dec 5, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal is once again shaking up its West Coast executive ranks, with studio chief Katherine Pope and development head Teri Weinberg both slated to eventually leave their current positions.
People familiar with the situation said the changes also involve the return to California of Angela Bromstad, the former head of Universal Media Studios who has been handling international affairs for the studio in London. A close ally of NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, Ms. Bromstad is expected to, at the very least, head a reshaped studio that will look to beef up its international productions.
However, with Ms. Weinberg also leaving, NBC is also mulling the creation of a president of programming position. One scenario being mentioned Friday had Ms. Bromstad heading a merged studio-network operation, should NBC decide to go in that direction.
NBC hasn’t had a clearly defined president of entertainment since Kevin Reilly departed the network last year. Mr. Silverman has made it clear since he arrived at the network that he didn’t see his job as that of entertainment chief but rather as more of a big-picture executive.
Combining the studio and network operations might also be a way for NBC Universal to achieve significant cost savings. NBC Universal yesterday announced that 500 workers at the company are being cut. The company cited difficult economic times in explaining the cuts, but NBC Universal has operational weaknesses including the broadcast network, which has suffered a 14 percent decline in prime-time ratings year over year.
NBC is also looking to create a ministudio focused on unscripted programming, the people familiar with the matter said. Paul Telegdy, the BBC Worldwide Americas executive who’s been rumored to be in line for a network reality position at NBC, might head up the reality studio, while also buying reality shows for the network. As expected, Craig Plestis, who now runs reality at NBC Entertainment, will have a production deal at the studio and serve as one of its leading suppliers.
Executives at NBC weren’t commenting on the record Friday afternoon.
It’s worth noting that not all of the changes are locked in yet, making it difficult to nail down exactly what will happen over the next few weeks. Some of the ideas being talked about Friday might not come to fruition, such as the network-studio merger or the reality ministudio.
However, Ms. Pope’s exit as studio chief and Ms. Weinberg’s eventual departure as executive vice president of development at NBC Entertainment seem certain. Ms. Weinberg is a protégé of NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman.
One person familiar with the situation said Ms. Weinberg might stay on for a few weeks, or even a few months, to oversee the development of projects currently in the works for next season.
While Ms. Weinberg and Mr. Silverman are close friends, the relationship between Mr. Silverman and Ms. Pope has been described as frosty, at best.
Partisans of Mr. Silverman argue that Ms. Pope has not taken the hit for NBC’s programming missteps in recent years. They blame her for the massive ratings decline for the network’s once-mighty “Heroes,” as well as the quick collapse of the seemingly promising “Bionic Woman.”
“She’s delivered narrow shows, from ‘Hawaii’ to ‘LAX’,” one critic of Ms. Pope’s complained. “There were just too many issues there.”
(Editor: Baumann)

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