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NBCUniversal announces new network group, management changes

NBCUniversal announces new network group, management changes
Suzanne Kolb, the president of E! Entertainment, announced her departure in a memo Tuesday. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

NBCUniversal announced it will group four of its channels to form Lifestyle Network Group under Frances Berwick, president of Bravo and Oxygen Media.

Berwick will oversee Bravo, Oxygen, E! Entertainment and Esquire Network. E! Entertainment President Suzanne Kolb said in an internal memo to her team Tuesday that she is leaving the network after nine years.

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The reorganization comes when E! is undergoing some changes to its lineup. Chelsea Handler signed off from "Chelsea Lately" in August to do a new talk show for Netflix. The network also recently lost Joan Rivers, its leading host of the popular red carpet gabfest "Fashion Police."

Kolb, who was tapped as president in July 2011, helped lead marketing and creative direction for some of the network's biggest hits, including the "Kardashians" franchise, " The Soup" and "Fashion Police." The network, under Kolb, also delved into scripted television with the soap "The Royals," slated to premiere in 2015.

But with shows such as "Married to Jonas" and "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" the network has struggled to replicate the success of its "Kardashian" franchise.

"In a crowded, constantly evolving media landscape, it's more important than ever to have a business structure that not only delivers results today, but also sets a course with the right leadership for future success," NBC's Cable Entertainment Chair Bonnie Hammer said in a statement about Berwick's appointment.

The cable group credits Berwick for "spearheading strategy and operations" for Bravo and Oxygen, helping Bravo become a top 10 cable network with over 550 hours of year-round original programming. She helped oversee the popular "Real Housewives" franchise, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Top Chef."

With her expertise, the cable group hopes E! can increase viewership and strengthen its reputation as a "go-to multiplatform destination for all things entertainment" with more original programming.

"I've been a huge longtime fan of E! from afar, so I'm really excited to now be part of the team," Berwick said in a statement. "I have enormous respect for the brand leadership position they've built in entertainment news and celebrity culture."

Esquire Network President Adam Stotsky will also tackle the role of general manager of E! Entertainment, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the network. The 13-year NBCUniversal veteran will report to Berwick.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h

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