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NBCU Cable Upfront Presentation Live Blog: WWE Deal Announced, Joel McHale Needs A Drink, Upfront Week Wraps

By | Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 1:45pm PDT

Upfronts2014_badge__140505214755 (1)For the first time NBCUniversal bookends Broadcast Upfront Week — culminating in this afternoon’s NBCU usa-network-logoCable Entertainment Group at the Javits Center, including Bravo, E!, Esquire Network, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, and USA Network.

The presentation will have a hard time topping Joan and Melissa Rivers in the E! Red Carpet Mani-Cam, doing spot-on finger impressions of Lea Michelle and Sharon Stone for Giuliana Rancic and Ross Matthews.  Kim Kardashian adjusted her engagement ring to make sure it was caught on the Mani-Cam in all its glory, then declared her fingers ugly and pulled out.

Here’s how it went:

4:20 PM ET: Big question of this upfront seems to be who is going to host it. NBCU Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer opened the orgy of new and returning show plugging by assuring us she’s not hosting, and touting the fact this combined network presentation boasted “120 of our on-air talent — that’s 120 wonderful humans.” She continued: “I know how grueling it can be running around town, sitting through umpteen presentations. .. We hope to earn a few brownie points saving your time… shoe leather and taxi fares.”

4:35 PM ET: NBCU’s ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino calls herself the Kim Kardashian of NBCU Cable. Kim Kardashian walks out and says “Hold on I believe I’M the Kim Kardashian of NBC Universal.” Yaccarino tries to give the two of them a name: Kardino?

“Enough about that,”Kim … Read More »

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Bonnie Hammer Appoints Two Senior Executives To Her Team

By | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 12:09pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Charles Kennedy has been named EVP, Research and Insights, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group. Kennedy joins from ABC where he served as SVP of Research. Liz Mahaffey has been named EVP, Brand Strategy, where she’ll oversee strategic planning initiatives across the portfolio of networks. Mahaffey has served as EVP since 2011 where she had oversight of all research initiatives at USA, Syfy, E!, G4, Sleuth, Chiller and UniHD. The two will report to NBCU Cable Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer. “Charles is at the top of his field, a talented executive with a deep knowledge of the business,” said Hammer. “Liz is one of the best big picture thinkers in the business.”

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Bonnie Hammer Takes Over All NBCU Cable Entertainment Cable Nets, Lauren Zalaznick Shifts To New Role, Joe Uva Gets Telemundo

By | Monday February 4, 2013 @ 12:21pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Bonnie Hammer is officially NBCUniversal‘s cable queen. Hammer, who added E! and G4 to her portfolio of USA, Syfy and Universal Cable Prods after the Comcast merger, is now taking over the combined company’s entire entertainment cable universe including Bravo, Oxygen and Style, which had been under the purview of fellow top-ranked NBCU cable executive Lauren Zalaznick. Zalaznick, whose post-merger portfolio was a hodgepodge mix of cable networks (Bravo, Style), Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo and digital properties — red-hot Fandago and iVillage (which recently shifted to NBC News Digital) — will now take on a new role as EVP NBCUniversal, focusing on innovation, digital, monetization and emerging technology across the company. Telemundo oversight is going to former Univision Communications CEO Joe Uva, who is joining NBCUniversal as Chairman, Hispanic Enterprises and Content. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke just outlined the restructuring in an internal email (below).

The awkward separation of NBCU’s entertainment cable assets had historic reasons. Hammer and Zalaznick originally made their mark running a cable network (Sci Fi Channel and Trio, respectively) and as they rose through the ranks, the two kept expanding their portfolios until all NBCUniversal entertainment cable nets were under the supervision of one of them. Heading into the Comcast-NBCU merger, one of Burke’s trickiest tasks was trying to keep both Hammer and Zalaznick in the company. That meant giving each some of Comcast’s cable nets — E! and G4 went to Hammer, Style to Zalaznick. But the separation of NBCU’s entertainment cable assets has made less and less sense, especially as networks on both sides were starting to move in a similar direction. Read More »

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NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Taps Steve Dolcemaschio To Run Reality Studio

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 10:29am PST

Steve Dolcemaschio, who has been the COO of E! Entertainment for the past six years, has been picked to run NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s reality production arm Comcast Entertainment Studio. The unit, which is being renamed early next year, develops and produces reality and topical programs for cable networks including E!’s The Soup, Fashion Police and Ice Loves Coco; the Style Network’s Giuliana & Bill; and GSN’s Baggage. He will report to Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, which houses Dolcemaschio’s E!, USA Network, Syfy, G4, Cloo, Chiller and Universal HD. “From the moment I began working with Steve, I’ve been impressed by his business skills and his operational savvy,” Hammer said. “He’s the perfect person to help grow the studio into an even more vital resource for innovative programming both inside and outside the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment family.” Dolcemaschio, who will assume the title of president, will segue out of his E! role during the next several months; while there, he has overseen production operations, tech operations, business & legal affairs, business development, finance, facilities and human resources. EVP Development Jay James will continue to head up the reality studio’s development and report to Dolcemaschio.

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Kevin Plunkett Gets E!’s Scripted Exec Post

By | Monday October 24, 2011 @ 9:24am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After a long search, E! Entertainment Television has tapped former ABC Studios head of comedy Kevin Plunkett as its first-ever dedicated scripted executive. Plunkett has been named SVP Scripted Programming, overseeing all aspects of E!’s scripted development and reporting to Lisa Berger, President of Entertainment Programming. The hire is part of the strategy of NBCUniversal’s cable maven Bonnie Hammer, who took over E! after the NBC Universal-Comcast merger, to expand the programming of the the channel — known for its celebrity news and reality programs — into scripted territory. E!’s scripted efforts will be “uniquely tailored to appeal to the E! audience,” Berger said. Plunkett exited ABC Studios as part of ABC new topper Paul Lee’s executive overhaul at both the network and studio in June. Plunkett spent 6 1/2 years at ABC Entertainment, most recently as SVP Comedy Development at ABC Studios. Prior to that, he served as Head of Current Comedy Programming at ABC. His resume also includes stints at Paramount Network Television, ABC Family and Disney Channel.

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Cory Shields To Head PR For NBCU Cable Entertainment, John Kelley Gets New Role

By | Thursday July 21, 2011 @ 10:42am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, the NBCUniversal division run by chairman Bonnie Hammer, is making a top PR change as 2 veteran NBC Universal PR executives get new roles. Cory Shields has been named EVP, Communications of the division, overseeing the communications efforts of all its properties, which include USA Network, Syfy, E! Entertainment, G4, Sleuth, Chiller, Universal HD, and Universal Cable Studios. Meanwhile, SVP John Kelley, who had been Hammer’s top PR executive overseeing communications for the cable networks and studio under her purview, has been named to the new position of SVP, Communications, Pro-Social And Diversity Initiatives for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment And Cable Studios. He will report to Shields. Most recently Shields served as EVP Global Policy Strategies and Alliances, where he worked within the NBCUniversal anti-piracy team. Previously, he served as EVP, Communications for NBC Universal since June of 2006. He came to NBC Universal from Sony BMG Music Entertainment, where he served as SVP, Corporate Communications. Shield’s first tour of duty at NBC was from 1997-2004, rising to SVP, Corporate Communications. Kelley joined USA Network in 2002 as SVP, Communications.

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Suzanne Kolb Named President of E! Entertainment

By | Thursday July 7, 2011 @ 10:00am PDT

Back in May, we reported about rumblings that E! Entertainment marketing president Suzanne Kolb had emerged as the top internal candidate to replace Ted Harbert as the network’s president, after Harbert moved on to NBC to oversee stations, affiliates, and sales alongside Bob Greenblatt. NBC Cable chairman Bonnie Hammer took her time, but today she made it official about Kolb. Here’s the release:

Los Angeles, July 7, 2011 – Suzanne Kolb has been named President of E! Entertainment, reporting to Bonnie Hammer, Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. Kolb previously served as President, Marketing, News and Online for E! and The Style Network and has played a key leadership role in driving the networks’ record-breaking growth over the past six years. As E! President, Kolb’s senior management team will include longtime E! executives Steve Dolcemaschio, Chief Operating Officer, Lisa Berger, President, Entertainment Programming, and Cyndi McClellan, Executive Vice President, Research & Program Strategy.

“As a member of E!’s leadership team, Suzanne has played a pivotal role in getting the network to the great place it is today,” said Hammer. “Her strong oversight of three areas key to E!’s success — news, online and marketing — makes her the perfect person to lead the brand through the important next phase of its evolution.”

“I am incredibly grateful to Bonnie for the opportunity to lead E! during this wonderfully exciting and unique time in the brand’s history and equally thrilled to do that in partnership with a management team I know and love,” said Kolb. “E! has enjoyed great success in the past but we’re just getting started.”

In her previous role as President, Marketing, News and Online, E! Entertainment and The Style Network, Kolb led all marketing, communications and brand alliances for both networks, and oversaw the networks’ popular non-linear destinations E! Online and mystyle.com. Most recently Kolb successfully unified and expanded E!’s news entities, including E! News, E! Online and E! News Now, and has helped to establish E! News as the top global entertainment news brand.

Read More »

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E! Narrows Field For Ted Harbert’s Successor

By | Wednesday May 25, 2011 @ 3:25pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Like she had said, NBC Cable chairman Bonnie Hammer is taking her time with finding a new president of E! to succeed Ted Harbert. Word is she is a few weeks away from making a final decision and is still considering a couple of outside candidates. Internally, marketing president Suzanne Kolb has emerged as the top candidate. Additionally, Hammer is planning to add scripted programming to the mix at E!. A search for a scripted executive is underway, with 2013 as a target date for launching E!’s first scripted series.

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Jeff Wachtel And Chris McCumber Named USA Network Co-Presidents

By | Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:17pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

With Bonnie Hammer taking on a much larger portfolio following the NBC-Comcast merger, she is ceding control over day-to-day operations of NBCUniversal’s flagship cable network USA.

Hammer will continue to oversee USA, which will now be run jointly by Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber. Wachtel and McCumber, who both joined USA in 2001, have been named co-presidents of USA Network. Both will be involved in every aspect of USA’s business, reporting to Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. “USA will remain a top priority for me, and I can’t think of a better team to build on the network’s incredible momentum,” Hammer said. “Not only have Chris and Jeff performed consistently at the top of their games, their collaborative style is a critical part of USA’s DNA and a key component of the network’s success.” The setup resembles that at USA sibling Syfy, which Hammer also used to run. Now that is done by the network’s president Dave Howe. In her expanded post-merger role, Hammer oversees USA, Syfy and Universal Cable Prods. as well as E!, G4, Chiller and Sleuth.

Wachtel has been USA’s head of original programming, first as EVP and most recently as president, overseeing development of scripted series, original movies and miniseries as well as non-scripted content.  Additionally, he serves as co-head of creative for production arm Universal Cable Prods. Wachtel has … Read More »

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Will Zalaznick’s MTV Maneuvering Backfire?

Ever since the NBC Universal-Comcast merger was announced last year, the obnoxious Lauren Zalaznick has been lobbying for a bigger role within the combined company. And, in the process, she’s made a pest of herself from what I hear. The president of NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks oversees Bravo, Oxygen, and iVillage, and has indicated not very subtlely that a small addition to her current portfolio, such as Comcast’s Style Network, won’t cut it. She’s also threatening to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Sources tell Deadline that Zalaznick took meetings recently with Viacom president/CEO Philippe Dauman and top Viacom cable executives execs including Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music /Films /Logo Group. Though these meetings have been described to Deadline as only exploratory, Zalaznick is trying to make Comcast & NBCU believe she’s being eyed for Judy McGrath’s job as chairman/CEO of MTV Networks. Interesting that, last December, Zalaznick was so worried there’d be no upward mobility for her post-merger that she floated speculation she was in advanced talks to take Brian Graden’s job as MTV President of Entertainment running MTV and VH1. Didn’t happen.

The problem for Zalaznick is that her persistent maneuvering is hurting her, not helping her. Meanwhile, Bonnie Hammer is sitting pretty on NBCU’s golden egg, overseeing the company’s most lucrative assets: USA Networks, SyFy, and their in-house studio that produces most of the channels’ series. Zalaznick has tried to make everybody think of herself on the same level as Hammer, even to the point of leaking to the media … Read More »

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Leight Leaves ‘Criminal Intent’ For HBO

Within days of USA Network renewing Law & Order: Criminal Intent with an order for 16 episodes, the series has just lost its showrunner. I’m told Warren Leight has left to be the showrunner of HBO’s In Treatment. It’s a big blow to Bonnie Hammer, promoted two months ago to head the newly created NBCU Cable Entertainment & Cable Studio. The former USA Network/Sci Fi Channel boss had been in the midst of hammering out a new deal with Leight, under whose leadership CI was the top drama series in basic cable primetime for the fourth quarter, more than doubling USA’s audience in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot from the same period the previous year. The first-run CI segments last fall averaged about 4.1 million viewers and about 2 million adults 18-49. By contrast, HBO’s In Treatment has struggled to find an audience since its January 28th premiere bombed with only 446,000 viewers. To drum up interest in the first time an HBO series has been stripped Monday-Friday, the pay channel has been putting full and free episodes on the Internet. So Leight will face quite an uphill battle. The Tony Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and film director joined the staff of CI in its 2nd season on a tip from Theresa Rebeck to then executive producer Rene Balcer, who subsequently recommended Leight to takeover as the show’s executive producer and head writer in 2006 when Balcer left at the end … Read More »

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