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NBCUniversal shake-up: Pearlena Igbokwe takes over global TV studio business from Hammer

Pearlena Igbokwe takes over NBCUniversal's global television studio business.
Pearlena Igbokwe takes over NBCUniversal’s global television studio business, replacing Bonnie Hammer.
(NBC )

Longtime TV executive Pearlena Igbokwe will take over leadership of NBCUniversal’s global television studio business from Bonnie Hammer, in the latest shake-up at the studio.

The promotion will make her one of the most senior Black women in the entertainment business, as the TV industry veteran Hammer moves into the role of vice chairman, NBCUniversal said Wednesday.

Igbokwe takes over the company’s growing global television studio business, including Universal Television, Universal Content Productions (UCP) and NBCUniversal International Studios and will report directly to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell.

“She has a long track record of success and is the ideal person to take the helm of the studio group,” said Hammer, who will become a corporate advisor reporting to Shell.

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The moves are part of a wider reorganization of NBCUniversal’s entertainment group as it competes with a host of new and established TV streaming services.

The company under Shell has been looking to streamline operations to respond to the intensely competitive realities of the new streaming era.

“Our television studios are key growth engines for the company, and Pearlena is ideally suited to lead them,” Shell said in a statement. “She has extraordinary taste and is well-respected within NBC.”

Dawn Olmstead, president of UCP, and Jeff Wachtel, president of NBCUniversal International Studios, will report directly to Igbokwe, the company said.

Igbokwe is also the vice president of the Hollywood Radio and TV Society board and a member of the Television Academy Executive Committee. Since 2016 she has been president of Universal Television, where she oversaw all aspects of the studio business and helped shepherd such popular TV shows as “Russian Doll,” “The Good Place” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

She joined NBC Entertainment in 2012 as executive vice president for drama development after working for 20 years as a programming executive for CBS Corp.'s Showtime Networks. There, she helped develop hit series, including “Dexter” and “Nurse Jackie.”

The longtime Warner Bros. TV executive had been seen as a possible successor to TV studio chief Peter Roth

This week the media company, owned by Comcast Corp, tapped Susan Rovner, a longtime Warner Bros. studio executive, to become its top TV programmer.

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Rovner will take control of a vast NBCUniversal portfolio that includes programming for its broadcast network, cable channels including Bravo, E!, Syfy and USA, as well as the recently launched Peacock streaming service.

AT&T’s Warner Bros. confirmed that its president of Warner Bros. Television on will depart Oct. 2, in an internal memo sent to employees Wednesday and viewed by The Times. Rovner joined the Burbank-based studio in 1998 and had a hand in such hit shows as “Gossip Girl,” “The Mentalist” and “The Vampire Diaries.”

In another high profile shake-up this week, Netflix tapped Bela Bajaria to head up its global television division. Bajaria, who previously oversaw international content and unscripted content, takes over from Cindy Holland, the 18-year Netflix executive who played a pivotal role in the company’s original content strategy.

The management change comes as Netflix, like other streaming services, has made a big push to invest in international content with local language productions.

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“It’s the growth market and if they don’t grow revenue, their stock tanks,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Oregon-based advisory services firm Enderle Group. “It’s important.”

Times staff writer Wendy Lee contributed to this report.


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