NBC Entertainment is making a change at the helm of the network’s comedy department, with Universal TV’s head of comedy Tracey Pakosta moving to the network to become EVP comedy programming. Meanwhile, Pakosta’s current boss, Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria, is getting a title bump to president. Both changes are effective immediately.
“Bela has done an incredible job of starting a studio from scratch three years ago and launching a series of hits on programming services ranging from NBC and Fox to A&E and Netflix,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “This business is very important to the overall performance at NBC Entertainment.”
At NBC, Pakosta will replace Vernon Sanders, who moved in to succeed Tal Rabinowitz as head of comedy a year ago. He will now return to running current (including both comedy and drama). Pearlena Igbokwe, NBC’s EVP of Drama Programming, who added current drama to her development responsibilities last May, will concentrate going forward on drama development.
NBC has struggled with comedy, having a hard time launching a successful new half-hour series in the past few years. Since last midseason, the network has limited comedy’s presence to one hourlong block, which is being relegated to Fridays next fall.
“Tracey Pakosta is a superb comedy executive with many years of experience and we’re thrilled to have her come to NBC,” NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said. “This will position NBC very strongly in the comedy business moving forward, which is a major goal for us.”
Uni TV’s comedy portfolio includes Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project, which is relocating from Fox to Hulu, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which migrated from NBC to Netflix. The studio will have to rebuild its comedy executive team. In addition to Pakosta’s move to NBC, VP Andrew Weil recently left to go to Netflix.
“Pearlena continues to deliver very potent dramas to NBC year after year – including The Blacklist and upcoming new shows like Blindspot, Heartbreaker, and The Player – and she will also remain the point person during the critical first season of new shows,” Salke said. “And to have someone of Vernon’s stature and vision solely overseeing current programming is vital to turning great pilots into long-running hit shows. There’s no one better to do this for us than him.”
In addition to Heartbreaker, drama-wise Uni TV has Dick Wolf’s Chicago and Law & Order franchises as well as Bates Motel at A&E. Along with Salke and Rabinowitz, Bajaria was among Greenblatt’s first major executive hires, joining Universal TV as EVP in August 2011 from CBS TV Studios where she oversaw cable development. She reports to both Greenblatt and Salke.