Almost two months after the abrupt exit of founding Amazon Studios head Roy Price over sexual harassment allegations in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the company is slowly going through the process of finding a permanent successor.
As we previously reported, the search has been focusing primarily on female executives though we hear handful of male candidates also may be under consideration. We hear Amazon higher-ups have been meeting with a number of high-profile women from both TV and film as Amazon Studios spans both areas. What’s more, following the seismic executive shakeup at Amazon Studios that saw Price, his top lieutenant Joe Lewis and head of alternative Conrad Riggs ousted within days, we hear that the company has tweaked its hiring process.
On the TV side, several top-level executives are rumored to have met, been approached or talked about, a number of whom have their contracts coming up. The list includes Fox TV Group chairman and co-CEO Dana Walden, A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, YouTube head of content Susanne Daniels, Paramount TV president Amy Powell, Annapurna TV president Sue Naegle and NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
Among film executives we hear as possibilities include former Sony co-chairman-tuned-producer Amy Pascal. Other female and male TV and film contenders will likely emerge as the process progresses. Regardless of gender, that eventually culled selection of one or two candidates will have to sit down with Jeff B for what is considered a final interview – that being SVP Business Development Jeff Blackburn, not Jeff Bezos.
Amazon Studios is currently run by interim head, the studio’s COO Albert Cheng, with head of event series Sharon Tal Yguado overseeing all series programming.
Amazon has been criticized for lack of diversity, with virtually all senior executives under boss Bezos being men, and for flaws in the corporate culture which may have contributed to the alleged misconduct that resulted in the recent Amazon Studios terminations. Some practices, including the company’s hiring process, have “evolved,” as one insider noted.
Previously, the long and multi-interview methodology of the Jeff Bezos company was often weighed to find people that fit with the Amazon culture almost much as their qualifications. Institutionalized years before Amazon started its streaming service or launched into original programming and film distribution, that hiring strategy was better suited to selling books and server space.
Now aware by default that it is a very different set of skills and personalities that make up the higher echelon of the media industry, Amazon have enhanced the still extensive process to emphasis experience as well as energy, so to speak in these potential big hires. “The company has changed in the last three years, the marketplace has certainly changed and the right person has to reflect that,” said another insider.