NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment has formalized its development/Universal Cable Prods. & Wilshire Studios leadership under Chairman Bonnie Hammer following the exit of Jeff Wachtel, Chief Content Officer, NBCU Cable Entertainment and President, UCP & Wilshire Studios, who is segueing to a new role as NBCU International Studios president.
As expected, Wachtel is not being replaced, with his top lieutenants getting loftier titles and more responsibilities. EVP Bill McGoldrick has been promoted to President, Scripted Content, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. George Cheeks and Dawn Olmstead have been named Co-Presidents of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. All three will be reporting to Hammer.
McGoldrick will continue to oversee development of all original scripted series for the networks of NBCU Cable Entertainment, as well as alternative programming for USA and Syfy. He now is adding also oversight of casting for all scripted content across the portfolio.
“I’ve worked with Bill since our earliest days at USA, and his natural creative instincts were apparent from the very beginning,” said Hammer. “With smarts, taste and a great personality, everyone, inside the company and out, enjoys working with Bill. He’s also got an unfailing gut when it comes to great content, critically important for us since it’s at the heart of everything we do.”
As EVP Scripted Content for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, McGoldrick oversaw an original programming slate that included USA’s The Sinner and Mr. Robot; Syfy’s Happy!; E!’s The Arrangement; and Bravo’s Imposters.
McGoldrick first joined USA in 1998, rising from executive assistant to VP, Series Development. After a four-year stint at Spike Television as VP, Original Series Production, he returned to USA in 2009 as SVP, Original Scripted Programming, where he oversaw scripted series development including Suits, White Collar, Royal Pains, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, Monk and The 4400. In 2013, McGoldrick was named EVP, Original Scripted Programming for Syfy, where he shepherded the development of The Magicians, Childhood’s End and The Expanse.
In their new roles, George Cheeks and Dawn Olmstead will jointly oversee all creative development and operations at UCP (focused on original scripted programming) and Wilshire Studios (focused on non-scripted). Cheeks will also have oversight of Business Affairs for Cable Entertainment. The partnership is reminiscent of 20th Century Fox TV’s longtime leadership team of Dana Walden and Gary Newman who also came from development and business background, respectively.
“I can’t imagine stronger leadership for our studios,” said Hammer. “Dawn is one of the most talented creative executives I’ve ever worked with, and George’s business savvy is second to none. Their combined expertise promises to bolster UCP and Wilshire Studios’ already fantastic track record.”
Cheeks most recently served as President, Business Operations and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television, overseeing business affairs for NBC Entertainment, music services for the NBCUniversal television portfolio, and production operations for Universal TV and UCP, as well as NBC’s late-night franchises, reporting to NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt.
He will continue his role as President of NBC’s late-night programming which reports into Greenblatt, but will be stepping down as President of Business Operations for the network and will no longer shepherd production for Uni TV and serve as co-head of first-run syndication, a position he had held since 2016.
There will be no replacement for Cheeks at NBC/Uni TV. Business affairs and production will report to NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke on the scripted side and Alternative and Reality Group president Paul Telegdy on the unscripted side.
Cheeks came to NBCUniversal in 2012 after more than a decade at Viacom Media Networks. There he ran business affairs and served as co-general counsel and head of standards and practices for Viacom’s networks including MTV, Comedy Central, Spike, TV Land, CMT, Logo and VH1.
Olmstead, previously EVP, Development, Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios, has led development at the two divisions, growing UCP’s portfolio with series for the NBCU Cable Entertainment networks and external nets and digital platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube Red).
Since joining UCP in 2014, Olmstead has shepherded USA’s The Sinner, a project to which she attached executive producer and star Jessica Biel, Syfy’s Happy!, starring Christopher Meloni; Amazon’s Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and Bobby Cannavale, which received a two-season straight-to-series order; and Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy based on the popular Dark Horse comic and starring Ellen Page. Olmstead’s first project at the studio was the award-winning Mr. Robot.
At Wilshire Studios, Olmstead brought in Oscar winner Errol Morris and Oscar nominees Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Marc Smerling and spearheaded the studio’s reboot of Mysteries and Scandals, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, for Oxygen.
Prior to joining UCP, Olmstead served as an executive producer on Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Fox’s Prison Break, Tru Calling and Point Pleasant. She began her career as a segment producer for Saturday Night Live and The Jon Stewart Show.