EXCLUSIVE: Michael Edelstein will be stepping down from his post as President of NBCUniversal International Studios after more than seven years. He just made the announcement internally (You can read his note to his colleagues under the post)
The departure is said to be amicable, and Edelstein will stay on until the end of the year, when his contract ends, while the company searches for a successor. Edelstein, an American executive and producer, moved from Los Angeles to London for the NBCU International Studios job, which he called in his memo “a completely amazing journey”. After seven+ years of living in the U.K. and traveling extensively around the world (a total of 1.5 million miles as he noted in his email), he felt it was time to move on.
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Edelstein built up NBCU International Studios, bringing a steady hand to the entity after two very brief stints of its first two toppers, Angela Bromstad and Denise O’Donoghue. During his tenure, he significantly expanded NBCU’s portfolio of international production companies, with the studio delivering 1100 hours of original content. Edelstein inherited Carnival Films, shepherding the run of its global hit, Downton Abbey. Companies that were acquired on his watch include Monkey Kingdom, which produces BAFTA award-winning Made in Chelsea; Chocolate Media, a factual/entertainment label; and comedy-focused Lucky Giant Productions (HBO/BBC’s Family Tree). Edelstein played a key role in identifying Australian production company Matchbox Pictures (Real Housewives of Melbourne, The Slap), which was acquired by NBCUniversal International Studios in 2013. Edelstein also was involved in securing an equity stake in Canadian company Lark Productions, which is behind Real Housewives of Vancouver.
In 2015, Edelstein oversaw the creation of Heyday Television, David Heyman’s joint venture with NBCUniversal International Studios. He also sits on the board of Working Title TV (About a Boy), NBCU International’s joint TV production venture, with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
Also in 2015, NBCU International Studios forged partnership with Germany’s RTL and France’s TF1 to produce U.S.-style procedural dramas for the global market. It already has yielded its first series, the upcoming Gone, starring Chris Noth.
Additionally, Edelstein’s division handles NBC formats, setting up local versions of such series as Saturday Night Live and World Of Dance.
Before joining NBCU International Studios, Edelstein worked as a producer, including a stint as an executive producer on the first season of ABC’s Desperate Housewives and on the ABC summer series Defying Gravity. He previously worked as executive producer at Industry Entertainment and as director current programs at CBS Entertainment.
In Los Angeles, nearly eight years ago, a stray peacock decided to make its home in my backyard. For those of you who are familiar with LA, you know that peacocks do not commonly roam the streets, and if you know peacocks, then you understand that they are wild birds that don’t much care for human interaction. Nevertheless, it seemed that I now had a new pet and one that was apparently quite fond of me. What I didn’t realize on that fateful rainy day in December 2009 was that this bird was, in fact, a harbinger of enormous change to come.
Approximately two weeks later this all came into view when I received a phone call. It was NBCU asking me if I was perhaps interested in relocating to London to build an international studio. The irony that NBCU was discussing an opportunity with me while the symbol of the company had taken up residence in my backyard was too much to be ignored. Therefore, when it was offered a couple of months later, I accepted the role and began what has been a completely amazing journey.
Starting a new job in a new country is eye opening. From creative practices dictated by markets, to cultural differences that are only revealed when you live and work abroad, each day has been a challenging and exciting adventure. Working with this incredible team has been the opportunity of a lifetime and together we have built a business that is the envy of many of our competitors.
Since 2010, we have assembled a fantastic group of businesses and content creators and built a robust organization around them that has permitted their creativity to shine. Together we have produced over 1100 hours of original content. This includes over 150 series which combined have generated numerous awards including 3 Golden Globes, 6 BAFTA Awards, 14 Logies, 12 Leos and 18 Emmy Awards. We have had success across multiple genres with exceptional scripted programs like Downton Abbey to unscripted hits like Made in Chelsea and Real Housewives of Melbourne and Sydney. We have created new business models producing US English language content directly for the international market and continued to attract top film producers including David Heyman, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner into TV.
These achievements would never have been possible without the unwavering support of first Jeff Shell, and then Kevin MacLellan, who since joining NBCU in 2011 have been stalwart champions of creativity and talent. I am deeply grateful for their guidance and wisdom as well as their friendship.
In addition, I have been blessed to work for years with a wonderful senior management team including Sarah Cooper, JoAnn Alfano, and Chris Oliver-Taylor; and for Gareth Neame, Will MacDonald and David Granger who have taught me so much about making great television in the UK.
I am grateful for the collaborative relationship we have enjoyed with our US colleagues. In addition to producing for NBC, our division has had the privilege of representing NBCU’s formats abroad including World of Dance, which is poised to become a global hit. I would also be remiss if I did not thank the Universal Cable team who have been tremendous supporters of our unscripted company, Monkey.
As anyone who has worked in international knows, 1.5 million miles, hundreds of nights in hotel rooms and constantly changing time zones begins to lose its charm. With a great senior management team in place, it is now time for me to take a break and create some space to ponder the future. Therefore, I have decided to leave NBCU when my contract ends in December. Until then, I plan to work with Kevin to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone. I intend to remain in London until, at least, the Spring and am looking forward to continuing to enjoy the wonderful content this division produces for years to come.
Thank you all.
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