Universal TV has rounded out its development team with the hire of Andy Weil as VP Comedy Development. Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria last month appointed Russell Rothberg as SVP drama/department head, Tracey Pakosta as SVP comedy/department head and Erin Underhill as SVP Drama, with a similar position on the comedy side left open. It will now be filled by 27-year-old Weil, who comes from BermanBraun, where he served as head of scripted television. “Andy has great creative instincts, strong relationships, and a good track record in selling comedies,” Bajaria said. At BermanBraun, Weil shepherded the development of the company’s drama series Alphas for Syfy and The Cape for NBC; comedy Accidentally On Purpose for CBS; the Lifetime dramedy pilot Modern Love, which was originally developed at HBO as a half-hour comedy; and Apocalipstick, a comedy BermanBraun recently sold to NBC with Universal TV.
A month after Bela Bajaria was given the reins of NBC’s production arm with the mandate to re-establish it as a full-fledged, stand-alone studio, Universal Television has sold two projects to non-NBC networks, comedy End Of The World to ABC and untitled FBI drama to CBS. In addition to Bajaria’s hire, the company’s rapid transformation over the past month also includes the assembling of a top executive team under her with the appointment of heads of comedy, drama and casting, as well as a name change from Universal Media Studios to Universal Television and a new logo (above, animated version below). This marks a return to UMS’ old days, before it was consolidated into NBC 3 years ago, when it developed and produced series for other networks, including Sons And Daughters and Complete Savages for ABC. Here are details on the first 2 non-NBC projects to come out of Universal TV:
EXCLUSIVE: NBC’s sibling Universal Media Studios has assembled a new top executive team under EVP Bela Bajaria, who took the reins of the studio last month. Additionally, UMS is changing its name to Universal Television, reverting to the moniker held by Universal’s TV production company, known for such series as the Law & Order franchise, prior to its 2004 merger with NBC Studios.
Bajaria’s new team includes Russell Rothberg, formerly SVP Drama Programming, NBC and UMS, who has been named head of the studio’s drama department as SVP Universal Television. Joining him in the drama area will be Erin Underhill, formerly SVP Current Programming, NBC and UMS, who now becomes SVP Universal Television, reporting to Rothberg. Additionally, former WB head of comedy Tracey Pakosta comes to Universal Television to lead the comedy department as SVP Comedy. And Showtime veteran Beth Klein, who left the pay cable network in April after 23 years, has been named SVP Casting, Universal Television. An additional comedy executive will be announced shortly.
In anticipation of Showtime Network’s head of marketing Len Fogge re-joining former Showtime Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt at NBC, the pay cable network has restructured its marketing team, elevating Frank Pintauro and Donald Buckley to EVP and co-heads of the department. Fogge, EVP creative, marketing, research & digital media, a close associate of Greenblatt, had long been rumored to take the reins of the NBC marketing department after Greenblatt is allowed to hire CBS/Showtime employees. The moratorium was recently lifted, leading to the recent hires of Showtime’s Richard Licata as EVP communications and CBS TV Studios’ Bela Bajaria as EVP for UMS.
After months of speculation, veteran CBS/CBS TV Studios executive Bela Bajaria has closed a deal to join NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt’s new executive team as EVP of Universal Media Studios. She will run NBC’s production arm, accelerating its re-establishment as a stand-alone entity after it was folded into the NBC network three years ago. Bajaria will take up her post in mid-August, reporting to Greenblatt. “I am delighted that we have lured an executive of Bela’s breadth and experience to run UMS with me,” Greenblatt said. “I worked with her in several capacities — most notably, she was my network executive when I produced the Elvis miniseries for CBS — and I’ve always admired her creative instincts, her unbridled enthusiasm, and her skills as both a buyer and a seller. She is the breath of fresh air we need as we start to reorganize UMS into a studio that will continue to produce series for NBC as well as the other networks.” Bajaria is the second CBS/Showtime executive to join Greenblatt at NBC since his no-poaching clause following his July 2010 exit from Showtime expired. Last week, longtime Showtime PR chief Richard Licata took over the same post at NBC.