Amazon Names Heather Schuster As Head Of Unscripted, Replacing Conrad Riggs

Amazon Studios Heather Schuster
LinkedIn/Amazon Studios

EXCLUSIVE: Almost immediately after Conrad Riggs was shown the door today at Amazon Studios, the House of Bezos has appointed Heather Schuster the new head of unscripted programming.

Having joining Amazon back in August as a senior creative executive, the ex-Ryan Seacrest Productions exec took over Riggs’ gig today, Deadline has learned. In another move, former AMC VP Unscripted Tracey Lentz, who has been with Amazon a couple of years, has been appointed head of creative unscripted. With both based out of Amazon’s Santa Monica offices, Lentz will report to Schuster.

Schuster was a producer for five seasons on the Donald Trump-fronted The Apprentice, where she worked with executive producer Mark Burnett’s then-producing partner Riggs. A SVP of creative affairs at Reveille/Shine America for almost three years, she joined RSP in July 2013 as SVP and head of Unscripted TV. A year and a half later, she left the American Idol host’s team to form her own production company, backed by All3Media, before linking up with travel experience site Detour in June last year.

Amidst the highly charged environment at Amazon, the minting of Schuster and Lentz is bringing a needed settling after a week of exits. It started when TV boss Roy Price was first suspended on October 12 after detailed sexual harassment claims went public. COO Albert Cheng took over on an interim basis, with Price finally resigning October 17. In short order,  head of comedy and drama Joe Lewis was cut loose yesterday, and Riggs exited today. (Separately, Head of International Productions Morgan Wandell’s departed to join rival Apple last week.)

Amazon Studios is making a statement with the promotions of Schuster and Lentz in the wake of the sexual harassment accusations against Price, a controversy that also embroiled his top lieutenants Lewis and Riggs.

Sharon Tal Yguado is currently in charge of all of Amazon’s scripted development.

Amid the executive turmoil, Amazon Studios has tried to keep a sense normalcy and business as usual, announcing yesterday its upcoming set of drama and comedy pilots.

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