Heather Olander, USA Network‘s head of alternative development, is moving to sibling Syfy where she will serve in the same capacity. Effective immediately, Olander will serve as SVP, alternative series development and production for Syfy, reporting to Bill McGoldrick, EVP, Original Content. Olander fills a position that had been vacant since the departure of Tim Krubsack in February. The move reunites Olander with McGoldrick, who also joined Syfy from USA last November.
Olander, who also will continue in her role as SVP of USA alternative development and production until early next year, had been tasked with introducing unscripted programming to a network, known for its dramas, including such signature series as Burn Notice, White Collar and Suits. After trying different reality genres, USA recently landed its first breakout with comedy/docu series Chrisley Knows Best. Syfy has a larger volume of reality programming, making the new job a bigger opportunity for Olander. “Heather did a great job launching USA Network into the reality space,” said McGoldrick, who worked alongside Olander at USA. “l personally witnessed her energy, tenacity and resilience.” He said he interviewed a lot of candidates for the job during the long and exhaustive search, but in the end, “I couldn’t get Heather out of my head; I think she is a star,” McGoldrick said. The goal for the network, known for such unscripted series as Face Off and Ghost Hunters, is “to invent a type of reality that isn’t easy to imitate; Syfy is not a network where you can do derivative shows of what’s on other networks.” As for bringing Olander to the male-skewing — viewership and leadership alike — Syfy, “I love the fact that I’m getting a loud and senior female voice in the mix,” McGoldrick said.
The hardest part getting Olander to Syfy was getting USA to let her go, McGoldrick added. USA remains committed to the unscripted space. Jackie De Crinis, USA’s EVP of Programming and Development, will continue to oversee both scripted and unscripted programming and will fill Olander’s position.
Developed by Olander, Chrisley Knows Best, which returns this fall for season two, averaged 945,000 P18-49, and 1.7 million total viewers in Season 1. The series is the network’s youngest original series to date with a median age of 35. Prior to joining USA, Olander was VP programming and development for CBS Television Distribution where she was involved with developing new syndicated shows as well as overseeing first-run strips. Prior to CTD, Olander was at MTV, where she served as VP of original series development and current programming.