NBC’s heads of drama and comedy, Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, have been elevated to Co-Presidents, Scripted Programming for NBC Entertainment. The move, which had been expected, follows the departure of entertainment president Jennifer Salke who last week was named new head of Amazon Studios.
Under the new structure, Katz and Pakosta, most recently EVP of Drama and Comedy, respectively, will report directly to NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. Universal TV president Pearlena Igbokwe, who previously reported to Salke, will now also report directly to Greenblatt.
By promoting within, NBC is ensuring a smooth transition as the executive change comes at a pivotal moment when pilots have been picked up and are being cast and staffed up. Katz and Pakosta had developed the projects that received NBC pilot orders so they will continue to work on them in their new role.
“Lisa and Tracey have impeccable taste, strong leadership and a deep understanding of the NBC brand,” Greenblatt said. “It was Lisa who was one of the first to discover and cultivate what is now the phenomena of This Is Us, and she continues to bring that astute eye to all that she does for NBC; and Tracey has shepherded in a new era of smart comedies, reigniting audiences to once again tune in on Thursday nights. Their relationships with top showrunners and talent are second to none, and I have no doubt their combined experience and expertise will build on the incredible momentum the network has right now.”
NBC is in a strong position at the moment, ranking as the No. 1 network for the season boosted by the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics as well as This Is Us, which is running up 23% versus last season in total viewers and is on track to rank as the No. 1 drama in total viewers when additional time-shifting is tallied.
Katz joined NBC as EVP and head of Drama in July 2016, ahead of the launch of This Is Us which she had developed in her previous role as SVP, Drama Development at 20th Century Fox TV.
Over the last year and a half, Katz has been overseeing the buying and development of all one-hour projects as well as shepherding the pilots and first seasons of all new dramas for NBC. She developed freshman military drama The Brave as well as the upcoming midseason series Good Girls from Jenna Bans and Rise from Jason Katims.
During her 12-year tenure at 20th TV, Katz also developed Lee Daniels’ and Danny Strong’s hit drama Empire for Fox as well as Fox’s Bones, Star, Sleepy Hollow and Lie to Me and CBS’ The Unit. Katz started her career at Brillstein-Grey where she worked for seven years on both comedy and drama series, including The Sopranos, Just Shoot Me, and The Steve Harvey Show.
Pakosta has been at NBCUniversal since 2011. She started as EVP and head of Comedy for Universal Television before being recruited to run the comedy department at the network in 2015. During her time at NBC, Pakosta developed The Good Place and Superstore, which have defined NBC’s new comedy brand, as well as the upcoming A.P. Bio and Champions.
At Universal TV, Pakosta shepherded award-winning comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine for Fox, The Mindy Project for Fox/Hulu and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for Netflix. Before joining Uni TV, Pakosta was a partner at Green Mountain West, Craig Ferguson’s production company for CBS TV Studios, which included a first-look development deal at CBS. She previously served as EVP of Comedy Development at The WB where she co-ran the comedy department and developed such series as Reba, What I Like About You and The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.