NBC Universal executives confirmed the restructuring of its studio and network programming divisions, naming Angela Bromstad, who most recently served as president of NBC Universal International Production in London, to head the combined unit’s scripted division and Paul Telegdy, formerly of BBC Worldwide America, to oversee alternative programming and specials.
Bromstad and Telegdy will report to NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios co-chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, co-chairmen. The appointments are formally effective Jan. 5.
Graboff characterized the reorganization, news of which broke last Friday, as a much needed streamlining to bring the programming and studio business in line with current economic and creative realities of the broadcast business.
“We are trying to right size and realign our organization,” said Graboff during a quickly-called conference call with reporters on Monday.
“We are eliminating layers of bureaucracy. We’re eliminating multiple numbers of people involved in the creative process so that we can provide the most talent friendly organization to the writers, producers, directors or actors with whom, we work so there is the shortest possible line between their vision and what goes up on the television screen.”
Some of those layers of bureaucracy being removed include Universal Studios president Katherine Pope, who has already exited her post. Also moved out is Craig Plestis, the former head of alternative, will head a new production banner, Apogee Studios, housed within UMS under Telegdy. Teri Weinberg, who has served as executive vice president of NBC Entertainment under her longtime ally Silverman, will stay in her current position until her contract expires in June and then will launch her own production company with a new deal at UMS.
There are reports of many more cuts at the network and studio including Katie O’Connell and Erin Gough, network drama and comedy heads, respectively, as well as Elisa Roth, drama chief at Universal Media Studios and Ted Frank, head of programming. However, NBC declined to confirm the moves.
“There are a lot of people staying with the organization,” said Graboff. “This is a restructuring to right-size our business. That's what drove this more than anything else. You're going to see a lot of the same faces."
Silverman stressed that UMS will continue to do business with third-party studios including Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Sony and that UMS will continue to sell programming to other networks.
The news comes on the heels of surprising comments from NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker at a keynote address at the UBS Media and Communications Conference in New York that the network, which has languished in fourth place and continues to struggle this fall, might cut the number of hours it programs weekly. Silverman and Graboff declined to elaborate on Zucker’s comments, but Silverman did concede that he was “personally disappointed” with the network’s performance this season, before adding, “We need to be patient, and one of the things I've learned is that patience is where we need to be. As we look at shows like Kath & Kim and remember that no comedies break out with their initial airing. It takes patience. And it's really exciting to be inside a development season without a strike."