Former 51 Minds exec Ben Samek moves to Endemol North America as COO and Endemol USA exec Rob Smith has taken on an expanded role as EVP, Creative Affairs. Samek is charged with overseeing business development and strategy, as well as operations for the company, including the recently launched premium multi-channel network, Endemol Beyond USA. Smith will oversee all creative for unscripted television, including development and current programming. Both will report to Cris Abrego and Charlie Corwin, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs, Endemol North America. Their positions take effect immediately.
Samek also served in a COO role at 51 Minds serving as executive producer on all its series. During his tenure, he oversaw the company through the sale to Endemol USA, and developed ancillary revenue streams in the digital, branded television and new media arenas for the company. He began working with 51 Minds as a show runner and executive producer since the early days of Surreal Life. Before that, Samek was with MTV, where he worked on long-running series Fanatic before moving to Bunim/Murray Productions as a producer, working on such shows as Making The Band, Road Rules and the Extreme Challenge.
In his expanded role, Smith will oversee the company’s development and production slate and will continue to oversee current programming and the studio’s broad portfolio, including daytime syndicated series Steve Harvey (NBCU), currently in its second season and renewed by NBC-owned stations through 2016, Wipeout (ABC), which was recently renewed for a seventh season, and Freakshow (AMC), which will air its second season on AMC this Spring. In his prior position as EVP, Programming for Endemol USA, Smith was responsible for successes such as the hit game show Deal Or No Deal, which aired over 200 episodes on NBC.