On the heels of another rocky start to the TV season, NBC is doing some major housecleaning in it executive ranks.
Three top-level executives at the network and its sister studio, Universal Media Studios, are on their way out the door. The company is also restructuring to bring the studio and the network under the same management.
NBC co-chairmen Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff will stay put in their jobs. However, Teri Weinberg, Silverman's former producing partner and the executive vice president of NBC Entertainment, is being let go, as are studio president Katherine Pope and Craig Plestis, the network's alternative-programming boss.
Former studio chief Angela Bromstad, who has been working to build NBCU's international presence in London, will return to the States to take the top job under Silverman and Graboff. She'll oversee a combined network-studio division that will oversee all scripted programming. (NBC Universal did something similar with its cable properties earlier this year, bringing development under the purview of USA and Sci Fi head Bonnie Hammer.)
Meanwhile, BBC Worldwide America executive Paul Telegdy -- the man who brought "Dancing with the Stars" to these shores -- will take over unscripted programming and specials for both the network and the studio.
Despite the commingling of network and studio operations, Graboff emphasized in a conference call Monday (Dec. 8) that NBC is still open to buying shows from other studios and that UMS will still sell product to other networks.
"Some of the highest-profile development [projects] we have right now at NBC Entertainment are with studios other than Universal Media Studios, such as Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Sony. We'll continue to seek out programming from all those partners," Graboff says. "On the flip side, we'll still be actively looking to provide programming as a studio to third-party networks. Obviously the show 'House' [which airs on FOX] has been a tremendous success for us, financially and creatively. We would love to replicate that with other shows on other networks."
The restructuring, Graboff and Silverman say, will eliminate some of the layers of bureaucracy within the development system and allow writers, producers and actors to have, as Graboff puts it, "the shortest possible line between their vision and what goes up on the television screen."
Bromstad and Telegdy will start their new jobs on Jan. 5. And despite being ousted from their network roles, Weinberg and Plestis will have fairly soft landings within the NBC Universal family. Weinberg, who came to NBC with Silverman from the production company Reveille, will launch her own production company -- which will likely be housed at UMS -- and return to shows she had a hand in before taking her current job. Plestis is also launching a production shingle, called Apogee Studios, that will supply unscripted programming to NBC Universal.
Pope, meanwhile, will leave the NBCU fold entirely. She's well-liked in the showbiz community, however, and several news reports suggest she won't have much trouble finding a new gig.
NBC once again finds itself in fourth place among viewers this season, averaging about 7.85 million viewers per week in primetime. It's tied for third with FOX in the key adults 18-49 demographic. None of the network's new shows averages more than 7.1 million viewers, and former stalwarts like "Heroes" and "Law & Order: SVU" have also declined significantly -- both are down about 2 million viewers compared to this time last season.