After dipping its toe into the unscripted world via pod and producing deals, Lionsgate Television is making a push in the arena with a senior-level in-house executive. The company has named former CORE Media Group Head of US Television Jennifer O’Connell to the newly created position of EVP, Alternative Programming.
She will oversee the development and production of Lionsgate’s unscripted slate across all platforms. Before her stint at CORE Media, O’Connell spent seven years at NBC, first as VP of Movies and Miniseries and then as VP of Alternative Programs, before joining Shed Media, where she was EVP of Development and Production for five years.
“Expanding our footprint in alternative programming is a high priority for Lionsgate and we’re delighted Jennifer is joining us to help lead that effort,” said Lionsgate TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs. “She is a highly accomplished executive and an important addition to our senior management team as we continue to build and diversify our television business.”
O’Connell launched CORE’s original TV arm and oversaw development and production of all programs in the U.S., including Sing It On, (POP), Euros of Hollywood (Bravo) and Hair Jacked (TruTV) with partners Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, among others.
She recently exited CORE which had been left as a standalone banner following parent Apollo Global Management’s deal with 21st Century Fox to merge Endemol, Shine and CORE as Apollo had been looking to refinance CORE’s $300 million debt. Matt Sharp, CEO of subsidiary Sharp Entertainment, is overseeing Core’s TV projects in the wake of O’Connell’s departure.
At Shed Media U.S., O’Connell led the development and production of original unscripted content and executive produced such shows as The Real Housewives of New York City (Bravo), Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC), Bethenny Ever After (Bravo), It’s a Brad, Brad World (Bravo), The Marriage Ref (NBC) and Dogs in the City (CBS).
At NBC, O’Connell oversaw several reality series, including the development and first four seasons of The Biggest Loser, and long-form events including 10.5, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Matthew Shepard Story.
Lionsgate’s unscripted partnerships/pod deals include Eli Frankel’s Rogue Atlas Productions, Dave Caplan’s Trooper Entertainment, Matt Kunitz’s Pulse Creative, and Adam DiVello’s Done and Done Productions. Among the most recent additions to the company reality slate are Monica The Medium, which launched on ABC Family August 25; DeSean Jackson: Home Team, which premiered on BET in June; the upcoming Douglas Family Gold for Oxygen; and Hellavator for GSN. Lionsgate’s reality series Christina Milian Turned Up returns to E! on November 3 for its second season.