EXCLUSIVE: Showtime‘s SVP Programming Pearlena Igbokwe may reunite with her former Showtime boss Bob Greenblatt at NBC. I’ve learned that Igbokwe is being considered for a new head of current programming position at Universal Television. The studio had been mulling the addition of a current executive in light of its increased volume: Uni TV is adding eight new series heading into next season on top of its returning ones.
Igbokwe, a beloved executive at Showtime, just left the pay cable network after 20 years as her contract was up this month. She was replaced by Imagine TV veteran Robin Gurney, who recently left the production company and is reuniting with her former Imagine TV boss David Nevins at Showtime. I hear that, after spending virtually her entire career at Showtime, Igbokwe had been looking for new opportunities. “It was very bittersweet for her to leave and plenty of tears were shed on her last day,” one insider said. “Pearlena is a wonderful executive, and equally important, she is a high-quality, kind person filled with integrity.”
A job at NBC would mark a homecoming for Igbokwe, who got into the NBC Summer Associates Program while still an undergraduate at Yale in 1985 and ended up working at 30 Rock for two summers during NBC’s Must See TV era. It would reunite her with several other former Showtime executives who have followed former Showtime entertainment president Greenblatt, now NBC chairman, including head of marketing Len Fogge, head of digital Robert Hayes and head of communications Richard Licata.
Nigerian-born Igbokwe, who emigrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was 6, had an early connection to American television as she watched a lot of it early on to help her learn English. After graduating from business school at Columbia University as a marketing major in 1990, Igbokwe did a short stint at HBO before joining Showtime in 1994, first on the marketing side and then making the transition to development. During her tenure at Showtime, Igbokwe developed and supervised such series as Soul Food, the network’s flagship drama Dexter, the Edie Falco-starring Nurse Jackie and Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union. In a recent interview with Ladybrille Magazine, Igbokwe was asked what she was most proud of working at Showtime. “My longevity and being able to hold my head up about the shows I work on,” she said.