Dawn Olmstead has been promoted to President, Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. She will oversees creative development and operations for both studios, reporting to Bonnie Hammer, Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.
Additionally, Andra Shapiro has been elevated to EVP & General Counsel, Legal and Business Affairs, NBCU Cable Entertainment. The appointments were just announced by Hammer in a company memo. (you can read it in full under the post.)
Olmstead most recently served as Co-President, UCP and Wilshire Studios alongside George Cheeks who a couple of weeks ago was named Co-Chairman of NBC Entertainment alongside Paul Telegdy.
The promotion is a recognition of Olmstead’s role in growing UCP over the past four and a half years into a leading supplier to the NBCU cable networks as well a streaming platforms. She becomes the only solo female head of a traditional media TV studio who oversees both scripted and unscripted content.
Since joining UCP as EVP development in 2014, Olmstead has shepherded the development of such series as the USA’s The Sinner, whose highly rated first installment starred Jessica Biel, the Amazon series Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and Bobby Cannavale, Bravo’s upcoming Dirty John starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, based on the Dark Horse comic and starring Ellen Page and Mary J. Blige; and SyFy’s Happy!, based on the Image comic and starring Christopher Meloni and Patton Oswalt. Olmstead’s first project at the studio was working with the USA team on the award-winning Mr. Robot.
“Since joining our team in 2014, Dawn’s demonstrated her unique perspective as both a seasoned producer and established development executive with unrivalled connections to the creative community…a winning combination that has served our studios extremely well,” Hammer said.
In 2016, Olmstead’s purview expanded to oversee development for Wilshire Studios, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s studio focused on unscripted entertainment. There, she 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 and sold the studio’s first project to Netflix, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell.
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.
In her newly expanded role as EVP and General Counsel, Shapiro, who was upped from General Counsel for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, will assume Cheeks’ Business Affairs responsibilities, taking on oversight of the division’s BA group while continuing to lead the Legal team. She will continue to report to both Kim Harris, NBCU’s EVP & General Counsel, and Hammer. Shapiro’s accomplishments include working with Hammer and USA Network president Chris McCumber to secure renewal for the highly rated WWE Raw.
“For the past three years, Andra has been leading our team of network and studio lawyers on both coasts and tackling a myriad of new legal and reputational issues confronting us as we produce new and edgier content,” Hammer said.
Shapiro was upped to General Counsel in June. Before joining NBCU in 2015 as a Chief Counsel, she spent more than 20 years at Viacom. She
Here is Hammer’s note”
Hi Team –
I’ve got some terrific news to share today about the executive leadership of our Studios as well as our Business Affairs group.
Effective immediately, Dawn Olmstead will take on the title of President, Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. She will continue to report directly to me.
Back in January, I named Dawn and George Cheeks Co-Presidents of our studios. George, as you know, accepted a new gig across the lot…and now Dawn will officially and deservedly take sole reins of the job.
Since joining our team in 2014, Dawn’s demonstrated her unique perspective as both a seasoned producer and established development executive with unrivalled connections to the creative community…a winning combination that has served our studios extremely well. Dawn and her team have had tremendous success developing breakthrough premium series for all of our networks AND in selling buzzy projects to external networks and streamers including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Dawn’s first project at UCP was working with the USA team on the breakout hit Mr. Robot. Last year, she shepherded The Sinner for USA, attaching executive producer and star Jessica Biel. It became the #1 new cable series of 2017 and earned Emmy, Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice nominations. Pretty impressive! And UCP’s follow up acts include…
- Dirty John for Bravo starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana.
- Homecoming for Amazon from Sam Esmail and starring Julia Roberts, which premiered to rave reviews at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival.
- The Umbrella Academy for Netflix starring Oscar nominees Ellen Page and Mary J. Blige.
As for Wilshire Studios, Dawn has taken on the challenge to grow our unscripted production where we see so much potential and opportunity. She and the Wilshire team are partnering with some of the best documentary filmmakers in the business…Academy Award winner Errol Morris, Academy Award nominees Joe Berlinger and Amy Ziering to name a few. The team is also gearing up for next month’s People’s Choice Awards on E! to be broadcast to a live global audience!
Right now our studios have 50 series currently in active production around the world and over 250 projects in active development, and I couldn’t be more proud of this entire group!
Also effective today, Andra Shapiro has been named EVP & General Counsel, Legal and Business Affairs, NBCU Cable Entertainment. In her newly expanded role, Andra will take on oversight of our portfolio’s Business Affairs group while continuing to lead our Legal team.
Before joining our Cable Entertainment senior team as Chief Counsel in 2015, Andra spent 20+ years at Viacom handling both the Legal and Business Affairs groups for Nickelodeon…so Biz Affairs is nothing new to her.
For the past three years, Andra has been leading our team of network and studio lawyers on both coasts and tackling a myriad of new legal and reputational issues confronting us as we produce new and edgier content. For obvious reasons, much of what she does isn’t shared beyond closed doors but trust me…she and her team have guided us through it all! Some of the standouts we can talk about include:
- For USA…Jumping in along with me and Chris this year to bring our high-profile WWE renewal deal across the finish line. And advising the network, studio and marketing teams on the multi-platform series launch of Mr. Robot and hacking the thicket of legal issues around that show.
- For Bravo and E!…From the red carpet to the rarefied lifestyles of the Kardashians and Real Housewives, she’s a pro at lawyering the dramas of our celebrity talent.
- For Oxygen…She and her team manage a daily legal practice of hot-button issues surrounding ripped-from- the-headlines crimes, sting operations, PI’s, confidential informants, and real-time investigations.
- Bluprint (formerly Craftsy)…She worked closely with our Strategy & Commercial Growth team and partnered with Comcast and NBCU lawyers on our acquisition of the newest addition to our portfolio.
Andra knows the industry inside out and her expertise and counsel have been indispensable across our entire group. I’ve no doubt that our Business Affairs group will be in the best of hands.
Andra will continue to report both to Kim Harris, NBCU’s EVP & General Counsel, and to me.
Dawn and Andra are fantastic colleagues…true MVPs on the Cable Entertainment team who’ll help take the portfolio to even greater heights in their new roles. Please join me in congratulating both gals on their new gigs.