EXCLUSIVE: Sharon Vuong, CBS Entertainment’s SVP Alternative Programming, has left the network after three years as head of unscripted and nine years at the network overall. Vuong’s contract was up, and she opted not to renew it. Her last day was Friday. No replacement has been named yet.
“Our incredible head of alternative, Sharon Vuong, informed Thom (Sherman) and me recently that she would be leaving when her contract expires this week. (If I were on my iPhone, this is where I would type in the sad face emoji.),” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl wrote in an company memo last week. ”Sharon has been an invaluable member of CBS Entertainment, leading the alternative team with creativity, energy and a collaborative, talent-friendly style that our producers have always greatly appreciated.”
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Vuong, who is well liked by colleagues and producers, spearhead development of new alternative programs and oversaw CBS’ current slate of reality franchises. Like has been the case at CBS for the past decade or so, because the network’s long-running reality franchises, Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss, continue to do well, the network does not take too many shots in the unscripted area.
Vuong’s biggest bet was Love Island, a U.S. version of the hit British series, which she championed. While the first season was a modest overall linear ratings performer, it did well with young audience and was a strong digital draw, becoming the network’s most-streamed new show on CBS All Access and CBS.com in over a year, and also found popularity on social media.
As a result, the buzzy reality series was renewed for a second season, which, along with CBS’ summer staple Big Brother, are currently in limbo for their upcoming seasons as most Hollywood production is shut down. (The network still hopes to air both shows sometimes this summer.) The network’s other current reality series, Survivor and The Amazing Race, also have been put on hold.
CBS has two upcoming reality series shepherded by Vuong, Tough As Nails, hosted by Phil Keoghan, and Game On, hosted by Keegan-Michael Key, and featuring Venus Williams and Rob Gronkowski.
“Although it was a very difficult decision for me, I’m excited to carve out my next chapter, and to enjoy a much needed break with my family,” Vuong wrote in an email to her CBS colleagues.
Vuong joined CBS in 2011 as Director of Alternative Programming, working as the current executive on Big Brother, Survivor, The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss. She was promoted to VP Alternative Programming in 2012 and served as VP Alternative Series Development from 2013-17. She helped develop The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey; Candy Crush and Ambulance. Vuong was promoted to head of the department in April 2017. In addition to Love Island, other CBS alternative series she oversaw over the past three years include The World’s Best, Million Dollar Mile and TKO, all of which ran for one season.
Prior to joining CBS, Vuong spent 10 years in unscripted programming in various producing capacities, working on shows such as Survivor, Big Brother, The Bachelor, Hell’s Kitchen and Dancing with the Stars.
Here are Kahl and Vuong’s emails to CBS staff:
Good afternoon, everyone. Some news I wanted to share — our incredible head of alternative, Sharon Vuong, informed Thom and me recently that she would be leaving when her contract expires this week. (If I were on my iPhone, this is where I would type in the sad face emoji.)
Sharon has been an invaluable member of CBS Entertainment, leading the alternative team with creativity, energy and a collaborative, talent-friendly style that our producers have always greatly appreciated.
She was the guardian and shepherd of our signature properties, including “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and “Big Brother.” She championed the development of last summer’s buzzy “Love Island” and is behind a couple exciting new shows we hope to have for this summer, “Tough as Nails” and “Game On.”
Although Sharon is leaving, she is not retiring; she is taking a wildly deserved break to spend more time with her family. While that often sounds like spin, in this case it’s absolutely true. Sharon works around the clock – literally – to put out fires, guide producers, make sure episodes are delivered on time and protect the health and welfare of contestants on our shows. I don’t know anyone who pours more sweat into their shows than Sharon, and I don’t know anyone who cares more about their success.
Above all, Sharon loves to win…and she leaves CBS a huge winner in my book. She embodies dedication and is the ultimate team player. We will miss her greatly. We thank her for her terrific work, and we wish her the very best.
As some of you may already know – tomorrow will be my last day here at CBS. Although it was a very difficult decision for me, I’m excited to carve out my next chapter, and to enjoy a much needed break with my family. At the same time, it’s unimaginable for me to know exactly how to say goodbye to what truly has become my home away from home.
First and foremost, I tip my hat to ALL of the incredibly talented and wonderful people who work here at CBS and want to say THANK YOU for being my family for the last decade. I am honored to have worked alongside the best in the business and am proud of everything we have accomplished and persevered through together.
From the bottom of my heart I have to express how grateful I am to the Alternative Team for their dedication, infectious passion and hard work in shepherding our legacy franchises as well as launching brand new series during our time together. I couldn’t have asked for a better partnership with a group of individuals – and I am proud to have been the steward of this fantastic team.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Kelly, Thom and the amazing senior leadership, both past and present, whose guidance, support and mentorship I will take with me for the rest of my life.
I will always love CBS, yet I am excited for the next chapter that lies ahead. I am leaving better than I arrived because of the imprint you have left on me.
I truly hope this is not good-bye, as I believe we will always be in this together wherever our journey takes us into the future.
Wishing You All The Best,
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