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.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC Universal International has acquired independent U.K. production company Monkey Kingdom. The pact represents the first acquisition at NBCU International by the company’s TV production president Michael Edelstein. It also marks the third production venture for NBCU International following the 2008 acquisition of Carnival Film & Television and the launch earlier this year of WTTV, NBCU’s joint venture with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. It is part of NBCU International’s expansion under president Peter Smith as NBCU looks to achieve $5 billion in non-US revenues.
Under the terms of the agreement, NBCU International will acquire 100% of Monkey Kingdom as well as its library rights. Monkey Kingdom was founded in 2001 by veteran producers David Granger and Will Macdonald. The company, whose main focus is in the unscripted area, has produced such series as The Charlotte Church Show, Comedy Roasts, My Kind Of Town, Make My Day, The Passions of Girls Aloud and Newlyweds. In the digital content space, it is behind The Secret World of Sam King, a 60-episode drama for Bebo. Now part of NBCU’s International TV Production unit, Monkey will continue to be run by Granger and Macdonald reporting to Gareth Neame, Managing Director, UK. Monkey will work closely with Neame and Sophie Lloyd of Peacock Prods., an NBC Universal non-fiction production unit that uses the resources of NBC News.