Les Moonves’ executive team at CBS is known as one of the closest-knit in the industry. Many have worked together for more than two decades, rarely anyone leaves and if they do, they could come back.
Ghen Maynard is a classic example. The veteran executive and producer, former head of reality for CBS, is returning for his third tour of duty under Moonves. He has been tapped to lead a newly launched unscripted department at CBS TV Studios. He has been named Senior EVP, Alternative Programming, reporting to David Stapf, President, CBS Television Studios.
In the new position, Maynard is being tasked with overseeing the development of unscripted content for broadcast and cable networks, streaming services and digital platforms. He won’t be starting from scratch. Without an alternative department, CBS TV Studios has two unscripted series on the air, both offshoots of CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden, which has emerged as a hotbed for reality formats. Carpool Karaoke, which is being produced for Apple Music, is based on the hugely popular Late Late Show segment, while Drop the Mic, also based on a segment from the Late Late Show, has been picked up by TBS. Both series are produced in association with Fulwell 73.
With his new gig, Maynard will become the second former head of reality at a broadcast network to lead the unscripted efforts of a major TV studio, joining former Fox reality chief Mike Darnell, now head of alternative at Warner Bros. TV.
Maynard had one of the most impressive executive runs in the reality arena during his first stint at CBS. He was a mid-level drama executive at CBS, working on the development of such shows as CSI, Judging Amy and The District, when he took Mark Burnett’s pitch for Survivor and persuaded his bosses to take a chance on the outcast reality series. The summer 2000 launch of Survivor forever changed the broadcast primetime landscape, ushering in a new generation of unscripted programming. As VP and then SVP of alternative programming of CBS from 2000 to 2004, overseeing CBS and sibling the CW’s unscripted development, Maynard launched four series that are still on the air more than a decade later, Survivor, the Emmy-winning The Amazing Race, Big Brother and America’s Next Top Model. That is a streak that likely won’t be ever replicated in the current more mature and saturated reality space.
Maynard shocked everyone when he left CBS at the height of his success in 2004 to take a job as Kevin Reilly’s No.2 at NBC. During a rocky 18-month tenure as s EVP, Primetime Development, overseeing both scripted and unscripted programming, Maynard and his team worked on the development of My Name is Earl and Heroes, among other series.
After his exit at NBC, Maynard returned to CBS as EVP, Alternative Programming & Entertainment Content for New Media for the CBS Paramount Network Television Group. His two-year stint from 2006-2008 did not yield hits the way his first tenure at the network did.
Recently, Maynard was an independent producer, selling and producing pilots and series, and/or consulted on projects at several networks and production companies, including AMC, CBS, The CW and TNT.
“Ghen has an outstanding track record in the unscripted arena, having developed some of reality television’s biggest hits,” Stapf said. “His creative instincts and strong relationships within the alternative community will be key as we grow our roster of unscripted hits and new formats.”
Added Maynard, “I am very grateful to both Les and David for the opportunity to build this exciting new venture at my old home, where I will get to work again with so many good friends.”