Holly Jacobs, Executive VP Of U.S. Reality And Syndicated Programming, Sony Pictures Television

Holly Jacobs has always believed in the therapeutic
power of television. The executive VP
of U.S. reality and syndicated programming
for Sony Pictures Television (SPT), Jacobs
oversees the development of programming
across the television spectrum, including unscripted network
series (The CW’s new fall entry Plain Jane, Shark Tank for
ABC, The Sing-Off for NBC) and daytime syndication (The
Dr. Oz Show
and the upcoming Nate Berkus Show).

Holly JacobsBut Jacobs began her professional life as an art therapist. “I’ve had a
very interesting journey,” she says.

After earning a master’s degree from New York University, Jacobs
went to work as an art therapist at the Florence Nightingale Nursing
Home in Manhattan. “I was so amazed by the incredible stories
of these elderly folks who were living there that I thought, I have to
document this somehow,” she says.

She did so in a film called Forget Me Not. That documentary started
Jacobs on the path to a television career that eventually led to commercial
television at ABC Daytime. In her position as VP of reality for
ABC Daytime, Jacobs worked on the 1997 launch of The View. “I’m
very proud that a show that I was involved in early on is such a big
piece of pop culture,” she says.

But iconic status in daytime syndication is the exception, not the
rule. And while Dr. Oz has been the most successful syndicated launch
in recent memory, the landscape remains littered with aborted efforts. It doesn’t hurt that both Oz and
Berkus have been anointed
by daytime rainmaker Oprah

“Syndication is the most
challenging business,” Jacobs
admits. “And being able to
take a talent that has been
groomed on Oprah Winfrey is
any programmer’s dream.”

For Berkus, which launches
in September, Jacobs and her
team will focus on broadening
the host from his professional
trappings as a design
and organizational guru to
more of a life coach. “He’s that
go-to guy on so many levels,
and that’s what we’re going to
build upon in the show,” Jacobs says.

In that same way, Jacobs has long been that go-to person in her
genre, having evolved her deep understanding of what makes good
television. “I’ve always been drawn to storytelling,” she explains. “Great
stories and the visual medium of film—that is at the core of all of it.”