Layoffs hit Showtime as Paramount overhauls ‘Billions’ brand

Paramount Pictures gate is pictured on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles.
Paramount Pictures, based in Los Angeles, is owned by Paramount Global.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press )

Paramount Global continues to unwind its once-proud Showtime brand.

On Monday, nearly two weeks after announcing the premium cable channel would be renamed Paramount+ with Showtime, the New York media company unveiled a new organizational structure that unites Showtime with MTV Entertainment Studios.

As part of the move, two senior executives who had been managing Showtime — programming executive Gary Levine and business executive Jana Winograd — stepped down. Levine, who has overseen Showtime’s original programming for 22 years and helped craft the network’s biggest hits, including “Dexter,” “Homeland,” “Billions” and “Yellowjackets,” will take on a new role as senior creative advisor, reporting to Chris McCarthy, president of Paramount Global’s media networks and the newly consolidated Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios.

“Gary’s contributions to Showtime might surpass those of anyone in the history of the network,” McCarthy said in a note to staff to announce the consolidation.


Winograd, a six-year veteran of Showtime, will leave the company.

In addition, about 120 Showtime employees were laid off Monday, a spokesperson confirmed.

The consolidation comes amid widespread downsizing throughout Hollywood as legacy entertainment companies slash costs to try to demonstrate fiscal responsibility to Wall Street. Last week, the Walt Disney Co. announced it was eliminating 7,000 positions after billion-dollar losses from its streaming strategy drew the ire of an activist investor. Last week, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger — who returned to the company in November — acknowledged that the company had binged too much on the prospect of streaming service subscriber growth.

In the last nine months, Netflix, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery also have initiated staff cuts.

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The Showtime shuffle was not unexpected.

Three years ago, CBS Corp. (Showtime’s longtime parent) merged with Viacom Inc., and Viacom management assumed control, leading to a steady exodus of many senior CBS executives. The merger brought together CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and the Paramount Pictures film studio in Los Angeles.

Nearly a year ago, Paramount Global Chief Executive Bob Bakish announced that ViacomCBS was rebranding itself Paramount Global. The name change was designed to lean into the storied history of its Hollywood movie studio as well as the revitalization of the Paramount basic cable channel, which runs the hit series “Yellowstone.”

Last fall, McCarthy assumed greater control over the company’s TV channel business, displacing Showtime’s respected chief, David Nevins, who left the company in December after 12 years. Paramount leaders now are dismantling the structure that Nevins had put in place.

In late January, Bakish announced that the company planned to spend much of the year integrating Showtime into Paramount+, including the streaming service as well as the linear channels.


The earnings report came as Walt Disney Co. faces a challenge from an outsider, billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, who is seeking election to join the board.

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The entertainment division, unveiled Monday, will be called Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios. McCarthy entrusted longtime lieutenant Nina L. Diaz with greater responsibilities; she becomes chief creative officer and content president. Keith Cox was named president of scripted and Amy Israel will continue as executive vice president for Showtime original scripted shows. Both report to Diaz.

Keyes Hill-Edgar will become chief operating officer, reporting to McCarthy.