NBCU reworks and renames TV studio


Universal Media Studios is no more. NBCUniversal has renamed the TV production studio Universal Television. Also, there are new bosses.

The newly named studio, led by Executive Vice President Bela Bajaria (who joined NBCUniversal last month), will include Russell Rothberg, formerly Senior Vice President, Drama Programming, NBC and UMS, who will head the studio’s drama department as Senior Vice President, Drama, Universal Television. Joining him in the drama area will be Erin Underhill, formerly Senior Vice President, Current Programming, NBC and UMS, who now becomes Senior Vice President, Drama, Universal Television, reporting to Rothberg.

In addition, Tracey Pakosta comes to Universal Television to head the comedy department as Senior Vice President, Comedy, Universal Television. And Beth Klein joins the studio, most recently from Showtime, to lead the new casting department as Senior Vice President, Casting, Universal Television. An additional comedy executive will also be announced shortly.

The announcements were made by Bajaria who runs this new division that reports to Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment.

“We are excited to embark on the rebuilding of the studio,” said Bajaria. “This incredible group brings a wide range of experience, great creative relationships and a strong belief in the studio business. We look forward to working in partnership with the creative community to produce quality shows for a variety of networks under the Universal Television banner.”

“Today’s announcement further demonstrates our commitment to our studio business,” said Greenblatt.

Even with the need for rebuilding, Universal Television is not without some successful shows. It had 49 Emmy nominations this year and garnering six outstanding series nominations for “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

The studio produces or co-produces series for primetime, late-night, long form, reality and digital media projects for a variety of broadcast networks as well as online outlets. Its current roster features Emmy-winning comedies “The Office,” “30 Rock,” and critical favorite “Parks and Recreation,” as well as dramas “House” (one of television’s top-rated series globally), “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights,” among others. Additionally, the studio, along with Wolf Films, produces “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” which is part of the most successful drama series brand in television history. Many of these series have been honored with prestigious Emmy, Golden Globe, Peabody, SAG, AFI and Humanitas Awards.

New scripted series produced by Universal Television for the 2011-2012 season include the dramas “Prime Suspect,” “Smash,” “Grimm” and comedies “Whitney,” “Up All Night,” “Free Agents,” “Bent” and “Best Friends Forever” (working title).

Late-night programs include NBC’s successful “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “Last Call with Carson Daly.”