Universal TV President Bela Bajaria Out; Pearlena Igbokwe Eyed As Replacement

Bela Bajaria is departing Universal Television, which she has run for almost five years, most recently as president. I hear NBC’s head of drama Pearlena Igbokwe is in talks to replace her.

Bajaria, a well-liked creative executive, was among NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt’s first major executive hires, joining Universal TV as EVP in August 2011 from CBS TV Studios where she oversaw cable development.

pearlena_igbokweBajaria grew the studio’s portfolio to 25 series currently on the air, expanding Uni TV’s reach to cable and streaming services. The studio’s portfolio includes Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hulu’s The Mindy Project and The Path, Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Master of None and A&E’s Bates Motel as well as Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise on NBC. The studio also landed a drama series on CBS next season with Pure Genius. 

“I want to thank Bela personally for building a strong team and working so effectively to establish Universal Television as a competitive company that produces high quality scripted series for broadcast networks as well as cable and streaming services,” Greenblatt said. “We all wish her the very best as she takes on the next phase of her career.”

Bajaria’s ouster was not planned as she was promoted from EVP to president a year ago and is believed to have two years left on her contract. Bajaria had a dual reporting line to both Greenblatt and NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. Such a structure is inherently hard to navigate for a studio executive. There had been rumors about friction between Bajaria and Salke over the past few years, with Bajaria reportedly being unhappy and vocal about it.

Meanwhile, I hear NBC brass are looking for a fullerChicago Justice - Season Pilot pipeline of shows from Uni TV on NBC as the broadcast networks try to increase ownership of their series. There are no new Uni TV drama series on NBC’s fall schedule. Besides the latest Chicago offshoot, Chicago Justice, only one drama pilot picked up to series for next season, Midnight, Texas, originated at Uni TV.

Igbokwe, who came from Showtime, has been a rising star at NBC with a string of breakout drama series, including The Blacklist, Blindspot and the Chicago franchise.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2016/05/bela-bajaria-out-universal-tv-pearlena-igbokwe-replacement-1201765141/