EXCLUSIVE: Former CBS head of drama Christina Davis has joined Starz as President Of Original Programming. She succeeds Carmi Zlotnik, who stepped down as President of Programming of the premium cable network in January.
Overseeing Starz’s original programming slate, Davis will report to the company’s President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch, who led the extensive executive search and considered a number of candidates before appointing Davis.
The CBS alumna, who is very well liked in the creative community, will be tasked with leading Starz’s programming and development team.This marks a return to the executive ranks for Davis who had been partnered with writer-producer Michael Seitzman in Maniac Productions for the past two and a half years under an overall deal at ABC Studios. With her background as an accomplished network development executive and a prominent Latina in the TV business, Davis is a fitting choice to lead the charge under Starz’s creative mandate of producing premium content for women and diverse audiences.
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During her nearly 20 years at CBS, including 11 as co-head/head of Drama Series Development, Davis had a hand in developing the CSI and NCIS franchises and other successful series such as The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, Hawaii Five-0, Elementary, Madam Secretary, Scorpion, Bull and MacGyver.
“Christina has established an impressive track record in developing successful, quality drama series and building lasting, fruitful relationships within the creative community which I believe will allow us to fully execute on the creative vision we have set for Starz,” said Hirsch. “She is a welcome addition to the leadership team and we look forward to bringing her talent and experience to bear in producing best in class, premium content that will resonate with audiences and continue to elevate the platform around the world.”
Davis joined CBS in 1997 as an assistant to then-drama development head Nina Tassler, rising through the ranks to become SVP and co-head of drama in 2007 after co-running the department on an interim basis for the previous season. Two years later, Davis was named EVP Drama Development and became the solo drama chief at the network, a posting she held until her 2017 departure.
“I am so excited to be joining the incredible team at Starz. This is a company I greatly admire for its critically acclaimed series, as well as the way Jeff has led the growth of its global audience, through both traditional linear television and the rapid expansion of the Starz App,” Davis said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to help guide such an extraordinary network into a thrilling new period of growth and look forward to working with the best creators in television to tell bold, captivating stories that audiences will be truly passionate about.”
At Maniac Productions, Seitzman and Davis developed and sold a number of drama projects to broadcast, streaming and cable. The duo recently exited their ABC Studios deal following discussions with the studio that started before the current coronavirus pandemic.
“Christina and I have been close friends for over a decade and have worked in partnership in various capacities over those years, most recently in our company, Maniac Productions,” Seitzman said. “She’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with, and I can’t begin to describe how excited I am for this next chapter of hers.”
A former honoree for The Imagen Foundation’s “Powerful & Influential Latinos in the Entertainment Industry,” Davis sits on the Board of Directors for HRTS and Girls Inc. Davis also serves on the Advisory Board of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers’ Diverse Women in Media Forum. She was repped in the deal by attorney Karl Austen.
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