In another executive fallout from the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, Peter Smith, the popular president of NBCU International, is leaving the company at the end of this month. I’m told that Smith felt edged out by former Comcast Programming Group President Jeff Shell who’s been brought in from the U.S. to oversee international TV production division of NBC Universal as chairman of NBCU International. “He could have taken a lesser job but it’s a bit of a shame,” says a friend. “This kind of thing always goes on whenever you have new management.” Smith, whose resume also includes a stint at PolyGram, tells me he hasn’t decided what to do next. At NBCU International, Smith was behind the company’s acquisition of Carnival Film & Television in 2008, which brought to the fold the ITV/PBS hit Downton Abbey. As part of the post-merger top management restructuring, Steve Burke, chairman of the combined NBCUniversal, announced in November that Smith would be reporting to Shell. READ MORE »
COMCAST-NBCU: Ted Harbert And Bob Greenblatt To Run NBC, Pat Fili-Krushel Also Coming, Fired Jeff Zucker Weeping
2ND UPDATE: Comcast’s new NBC Universal boss Steve Burke is supposed to finalize his new organizational structure and announce it today. We’d told you previously that Ted Harbert, president and CEO of the Comcast Entertainment Group, might be getting a big new job: it’s alongside former Showtime entertainment president Bob Greenblatt, and the two men will run NBC as equals reporting to Burke. Harbert will oversee stations, affiliates, and sales in NYC while Greenblatt will run programming and possibly marketing as well in LA. These are just two of the big changes that couldn’t wait for FCC regulatory approval, not if NBC wanted to have a development season. As it is Greenblatt and Harbert may not physically take the reins at NBC until mid-January, sources tell us, which is late for this pilot season. ”It’s going to be a long, steep, uphill climb in a tough world,” one insider described to us. “At least those GE boobs will be out of the way.” Meanwhile, sources tell us that fired NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker has been holding mini town hall meetings with company employees and in two different gatherings started crying and had to stop to re-compose himself. Yesterday was the latest breakdown. Last week, he actually closed his office door and cried.
The NBC operations job was previously discussed with chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group Tony Vinciquerra and CBS Corp’s Nancy Tellem who we’re told “agonized over the decision and went back and forth and wound up somewhere inbetween” after talking to Burke and Greenblatt about it. Sources tell us that Tellem wanted Greenblatt to report to her, but Burke made it clear he had made a commitment that Greenblatt would have unfettered access to him. So Tellem kept pondering until Burke moved on without her in the past 10 days.
Also in the mix will be Pat Fili-Krushel, the former president of the ABC television network and most recently EVP of Administration of Time Warner Inc. She’ll be taking over NBCU’s HR, legal, and other administrative areas. In her role with Time Warner, she worked closely with the other members of Time Warner’s senior management team and its operating divisions on a variety of organizational, developmental and diversity issues. Her responsibilities included oversight of philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, corporate human resources, worldwide recruitment, employee development and growth, compensation and benefits, and security. Burke knew Fili-Krushel from his days at Disney/ABC.
Comcast Programming group president Jeff Shell will be based in London in an international post. NBC cable’s Bonnie Hammer will oversee USA, Syfy, and E!, while Lauren Zalaznick will run Bravo, Oxygen, and Style. We also hear that G4 will mostly likely go to Hammer, and Telemundo to Zalaznick. Sources tell us that today’s announcement won’t mention Angela Bromsted who may or may not survive all these changes, depending on the source, or that eventually Greenblatt may possibly bring in outsiders including Jennifer Nicholson Salke and Danielle Gelber.
8TH UPDATE: Comcast is clearing the way for its pending announcement of the new NBC Universal top executive structure. Jeff Gaspin, who had felt more and more as the odd man out in Comcast’s plans for the post-merger NBCU, just sent out a note to NBC Universal employees announcing that he will depart the company following its merger with Comcast after he and new NBCU CEO Steve Burke “could not agree on an appropriate role” for him in the new company. Gaspin had 4 years left on his contract, which was breached by the merger and Burke replacing Jeff Zucker. Gaspin was furious when a report last week claimed he was gone because it wasn’t true: in fact the two men hadn’t made that decision yet even though everyone guessed that’d be the ultimate conclusion because it’s known that Burke wants to decrease the media company’s layers of management. Gaspin has spent a combined 19 years at NBCU, most recently as chairman of NBC Universal TV Entertainment. “I want to thank Jeff for his many significant contributions to NBCU and for his professionalism throughout the integration process,” Burke said in a statement. After sending the memo, Gaspin gathered his senior executive team for an emotional meeting.
EXCLUSIVE… 6TH & 7TH UPDATE: Jeff Gaspin is flying on an NBC Universal corporate jet from NYC back to LA right now and is telling fellow passengers that a report he is leaving the company is “not accurate”. As we’ve been saying all along, there are a lot of moving parts to this NBCU organizational restructure, and a lot hasn’t been pinned down yet. Gaspin, who is NBCU Television Group President/COO, falls into that category. We’ve learned that he hasn’t had a “definitive conversation” with Comcast about his future yet. And the fact is that, as of today, his future has not been decided. “It may turn out to be true that he leaves. And he’s preparing for it. But it’s not true right now,” an insider just told us.
EXCLUSIVE… 5TH UPDATE: We’ve confirmed that onetime CBS bigwig and now consultant Nancy Tellem has indeed been in formal talks with Comcast brass about taking a top job at NBC alongside Robert Greenblatt. The idea was that he would be in charge of creative, and she would fill a parallel NYC-based network president-type job. Both would report to new NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke. As we reported Comcast hopes to announce the new NBC Universal organizational structure — one which now may or may not include Jeff Gaspin who got on a plane Monday for NYC Monday to meet with Comcast brass. About Tellem, “Comcast is talking to her. Nothing has been decided yet though because there are still ongoing issues. But people are trying to work through those issues,” one insider told us. ”She wants to do it. She just has to make sure the job is right.” Tellem was among half a dozen top-level broadcast executives (including Fox Network Group Chairman/CEO Tony Vinciquerra) approached by Burke some months ago after the Comcast/NBC deal was announced. Tellem was most recently boss of the bulk of CBS Inc’s entertainment operations until she stepped down in December 2009 to become Senior Advisor To The CEO.