EXCLUSIVE: Universal Cable Productions has tapped top TV producer Dawn Parouse Olmstead (Prison Break) to lead its development team as the studio is looking to ramp up operations. Meanwhile, UCP’s SVP Development & Current Programming, Richard Rothstein, will be in charge of the studio’s current scripted series. This marks the first major executive move for Jeff Wachtel, President and Chief Content Officer at NBCU Cable Entertainment, since the former USA Network co-president moved into his new role in September. Both Olmstead, who is taking on a title of EVP Development, and Rothstein will report to him. “It’s a real coup for us to land a creative producer at Dawn’s level to spearhead our newly escalating effort to create and own original content,” Wachtel said. “She is one of the smartest and most focused producers I’ve ever met, and she is the perfect person to take our in house scripted studio to the next level.” Wachtel also stressed the increasing need for centralized oversight of UCP’s growing slate of existing series, currently approaching a dozen. “Richard has been a key member of the team that has created one of the best series-to-success ratios in the business.”
The deal with Olmstead comes after weeks of negotiations as she is a busy producer who has a lot of projects in the works, including two current pilots that she is executive producing, Bravo’s Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce, produced by UCP, which hails from Olmstead’s company Grady Twins with Marti Noxon, and Lifetime’s The Lottery. For the past five years WME-repped Olmstead has had a production deal with Warner Horizon for her Grady Girl banner. Olmstead, Neal Moritz and Marty Adelstein launched with Original Television, which produced Fox drama series Tru Calling and Point Pleasant as well as the comedy The Help. She began her career as a producer for Saturday Night Live and The Jon Stewart Show before moving on to executive produce the cable movie The Tiger Woods Story. Later she produced Jessica Yu’s feature documentary The Living Museum, and in 2000 she became VP Development and Original Programming at MTV, where she shepherded Fear, Cannonball Run 2001 and the U.S. version of the hit U.K. show Robot Wars.
During his time at UCP, Rothstein has worked on such series as Monk, Suits, Royal Pains, Psych, Covert Affairs and the upcoming comedy Playing House. Before joining UCP, he was SVP Cable Programming at Universal Media Studios, where he supervised the development and production of such series as Warehouse 13 and Caprica and also supervised production on Battlestar Galactica and Eureka.