NBCUniversal: Channing Dungey and others vying for best job

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Rarely has a job offer for a senior television director been advertised so loudly.When NBCUniversal pulled the trigger on a massive reorganization of its television business last week, the company made it clear that a key position in the new structure had yet to be filled – a new head of programming for entertainment that would oversee the creative decisions for NBC, cable channels. including USA and Bravo, and the all-new Peacock streaming service. One version of this role had, like Variety reported before the reorganization, was offered to Netflix’s local-language originals chief Bela Bajaria, who turned it down.

But when the job posting was actually posted on Thursday, speculation immediately began to swirl around who might ultimately land the job.

The internal name most often mentioned is that of Pearlena Igbokwe, president of Universal Television. A highly regarded creative executive, Igbokwe runs a studio that has produced several series for outdoor streamers, most recently “Little America” for Apple TV Plus, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” for Hulu and “Russian Doll” for Netflix. Igbokwe was also responsible for drama development at NBC, so she understands the inner workings of the ever-valuable broadcast network.

But sources at NBCUniversal have dismissed rumors of Igbokwe’s rise. One reason is that the executive could be in line for another job – succeeding boss Bonnie Hammer, who oversees both UTV and Universal Content Productions, if Hammer retires at the end of his current contract. ‘next year.

Another name currently being launched is that of Kevin Reilly, who last week was kicked out as Content Manager for HBO Max and Turner Cable Networks. Hiring Reilly will do nothing to immediately improve high-profile diversity at NBCUniversal following the departure of NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy amid allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic behavior. But as a seasoned TV director, Reilly previously served as president of programming for Fox and NBC, and his recent stint with Max, while short, gives him insight into content development for streaming. Reilly reportedly met with NBCU officials about the post before it was released from WarnerMedia.

Susan Rovner, President of Warner Bros. Television, was also reportedly approached about the role. Rovner’s name gets into the mix amid a massive restructuring at WarnerMedia that impacts Warner Bros. and its television operations with heavy layoffs. Channing Dungey, vice president of original content at Netflix and former president of ABC Entertainment, is also said to be a subject of interest for NBCU. But although Dungey, popular and respected in the Hollywood creative community, has often been at the top of employer wish lists, it’s unclear whether she might be tempted to leave Netflix, which has weathered the pandemic-fueled recession better. than almost any media company.

It is believed that other frameworks are also under consideration. No decision has yet been made on who will fill the vacant position. An NBCU spokesperson declined to comment.

One factor that may hamper NBCU as it tries to focus on a top candidate is how the research has spread into public view. The news that Bajaria has turned down the job means that anyone who accepts it won’t be the company’s first choice. And in announcing the restructuring, NBCUniversal handed many high-level tasks for cable and broadcast – including spending and windowing – to Frances Berwick, who has been appointed to head a new entertainment business unit.

Anyone who finds themselves with the programming job will need to feel comfortable sharing authority with Berwick, a cable veteran whose programming strengths lie in the unscripted. But in today’s environment, where job security is being challenged everywhere as media companies rationalize, that may not be a bad prospect.

Joe Otterson and Michael Schneider contributed to this report.



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