Brillstein Entertainment Partners has tapped former Lifetime head of development JoAnn Alfano as new President of Television. She will succeed Peter Traugott, who is leaving after 15 years at Brillstein to launch his own production company, which will be based at NBC. Alfano stars next week. “JoAnn has impressed all of us with her experience and drive, and we are very fortunate that she will be leading the television company,” Brillstein CEO Jon Liebman said.
Alfano’s hire is part of a reorganization of Brillstein’s TV unit, which just renewed its overall deal with ABC Studios for 2 more years. Alfano’s resume makes her a perfect candidate to run a TV production company like Brillstien, whose main focus has been on comedy series, most recently According to Jim, which airs in syndication, and Samantha Who?. Alfano served as president of another top production company specializing in comedy, Lorne Michaels’ NBC-based Broadway Video. There, she developed 30 Rock and served as an executive producer for the first 2 seasons, sharing the best comedy series Emmy with the rest of the producing team in 2007. Before that, she served as SVP comedy development and SVP drama development at NBC, heading both departments and developing such series as dramedy Ed and comedy Scrubs, after a stint as VP primetime series at NBC Studios. Alfano most recently spent 3 years at Lifetime, where she served as EVP entertainment and launched comedic drama Drop Dead Diva. There had been a lot of speculation about Alfano’s next move after she left Lifetime in March. She had been mentioned for a number of top cable and broadcast network executive positions over the past few months, something Alfano said she found rather amusing. “Most of it wasn’t true,” she said. “In my mind, I was looking for the type of situation in which I would be close to development, to the hands-on process of making a TV show.” She said she pursued a handful of positions, but “this is the one I really wanted. (Brillstein) represents so many talented actors and writers, they are a leader in comedy and looking to build their drama brand, which I’d love to do.” Indeed, after landing 3 pilot orders this development season, Brillstein got a series pickup from the hourlong Ringer, its first drama series since The Sopranos. Alfano was gracious about her predecessor at Brillstein, Traugott. “Peter did a great job, he is a terrific guy, and I know he will do well,” she said. “I look forward to grabbing the mantle.”