Both have been star executives at NBCU, rising through the ranks and expanding their portfolios. Cheeks most recently served as Co-President, Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios and President, Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment. Telegdy was President, Alternative and Reality Group, NBC Entertainment. He recently successfully launched an alternative TV studio run by his top lieutenant Meredith Ahr who may be getting more responsibilities in the unscripted area following Telegdy’s promotion to co-chairman.
“Having worked closely with George and Paul for years, I’m very confident that their creative instincts, talent relationships and business skills make them the perfect partners for the job,” Burke said in a memo to NBCU staff (you can read it in full under the post. “Both executives are beloved by their teams and extremely well-respected by the entire industry.”
To help with the transition, Greenblatt will continue to consult with Telegdy and Cheeks.
This is the second time this year that NBCU replaces a top NBC executive with a duo of successors. When Greebblatt’s close associate Jennifer Salke left in the spring to head Amazon Studios, she was replaced by Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta.
Greenlatt is leaving about an year after signing a new multi-year contract. He is rumored to possibly return to producing and there has been chatter that he may partner with Neil Meron, the long-time producing partner of Greenblatt’s close friend Craig Zadan, who died suddenly a month ago. The two will collaborate, at least in the near future, as Burke revealed that Greenblatt will continue to work on NBC’s live musicals, which have been produced by Zadan and Meron. Greenblatt launched and nurtured the live musical franchise at NBC that sparked the genre’s revival across TV.
In 2014, Greenblatt — a longtime Broadway producer, investor and fan — saw his NBCUniversal portfolio expanded to also include oversight of the company’s live-theater division, Universal Stage Productions.
In a memo to his staff (you can read it here), Greenblatt admitted that he has “very mixed feelings” about leaving NBC but felt it was time for a “new challenge.”
Under Greenblatt, NBC posted its fourth No. 1 finish in five years among adults 18-49 for the 2017-18 broadcast season. And just a few days ago, NBC claimed its first 52-week total viewer win In 16 years while toping September-to-September demo ratings for a fifth consecutive year.
“I cannot thank Bob enough for the incredible success that NBC has achieved over the last eight years,” Burke said. “He has been the architect of one of the largest turnarounds in network television history, leading NBC from last place when he started at NBCU right after Comcast’s acquisition of the company, to number one in the demo for five seasons in a row. This year, Bob led NBC to become the most-watched network in household ratings for the first time in nearly two decades. He has also brought a winning spirit to the network and attracted the best creative talent in the business.”
Here is Burke’s full memo:
I am writing to let you know that that Bob Greenblatt has decided to leave his position as Chairman, NBC Entertainment. This was a difficult decision for Bob, but after a string of extremely successful years at NBC — and as much as I’d like him to stay — he is ready to embark on a new challenge.
I cannot thank Bob enough for the incredible success that NBC has achieved over the last eight years. He has been the architect of one of the largest turnarounds in network television history, leading NBC from last place when he started at NBCU right after Comcast’s acquisition of the company, to number one in the demo for five seasons in a row. This year, Bob led NBC to become the most-watched network in household ratings for the first time in nearly two decades. He has also brought a winning spirit to the network and attracted the best creative talent in the business.
Under his leadership, NBC generated numerous award-winning hit shows, including “This Is Us,” “The Voice,” “Will & Grace,” “The Good Place,” “The Blacklist,” and the Chicago franchise to name a few. Additionally, he helped engineer NBC’s seamless transition in late-night TV, which has kept us dominant in this daypart in a very competitive landscape. He also transformed the studio side of our business, re-establishing Universal Television and setting up our new alternative studio. These studios produce many of the best shows on television for NBC as well as for other platforms, including scripted shows such as “Bates Motel,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The Mindy Project,” “Master of None,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” as well as “World of Dance” and “The Wall” on the unscripted side for NBC.
One of Bob’s most innovative achievements was bringing the live musical genre back to network television, creating an annual NBC tradition that has become the envy of our competitors. From the first production of “Sound of Music,” which had 22 million viewers, to this year’s groundbreaking and Emmy Award-winning production of “Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert,” these musicals engage audiences in a new way and have helped to reinvent live television.
Most importantly, Bob deserves credit for cultivating the strongest management team in broadcast television, a team he would be the first to give credit to for the network’s impressive performance. To that end, I am pleased to announce that George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy have been promoted to Co-Chairmen of NBC Entertainment, overseeing the network and both of its studios. We are fortunate to have two extremely talented, capable and complementary executives inside our organization who are ready to step up and help guide us into the future. Having worked closely with George and Paul for years, I’m very confident that their creative instincts, talent relationships and business skills make them the perfect partners for the job. Both executives are beloved by their teams and extremely well-respected by the entire industry.
Paul is a visionary and energetic executive who has helped develop some of the biggest hits in unscripted television today. He played a key role in NBC’s revitalization by acquiring “The Voice” in 2011 and developing it into the first big hit that helped propel NBC back to number one. He also developed “American Ninja Warrior,” “World of Dance,” “Ellen’s Game of Games,” and “America’s Got Talent,” which just cinched the title of #1 alternative show on television. Under his leadership, Universal Television Alternative Studio was launched, which is on its way to becoming a major global player. His passion for broadcast television is evident in everything he does, including his ability to convince top talent, such as Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Dwayne Johnson, and Kelly Clarkson among others, to make NBC their home.
George is a strategist and masterful dealmaker who knows how to get things done the right way throughout NBCU. He has done an outstanding job leading business operations for NBC and as Co-President of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. As President of Late Night at NBC, he has also been instrumental in the success of one of the most popular and lucrative TV lineups in the industry. George’s ability to develop strong relationships has earned him the trust of some of our most discerning marquee talent, including Lorne Michaels, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers.
To ensure a smooth transition, Bob has agreed to continue to consult with Paul and George as needed, as well as continue to work on our live musicals.
Please join me in congratulating both Paul and George on their new roles, and wishing Bob the very best in his future endeavors — which we hope will involve doing business with us whenever possible.
Here’s to a successful kickoff to the new fall season!