Liz Gateley Exits As Lifetime Head Of Programming; Tanya Lopez Promoted & fyi’s Gena McCarthy Adds Lifetime Duties


Liz Gateley, who had served as Lifetime’s EVP and head of programming for the past three years, is leaving the company. She had taken a temporary leave to deal with personal issues and outlines the reasons for her permanent exit so she can focus on her family in a note to the company staff, in which she also reflects on her time at Lifetime and the female-centered network’s mission in the #MeToo era. (you can read it under the post.)

“I would like to thank Liz for her enormous contributions to Lifetime, and I am glad she will continue to lend her expertise on some upcoming projects for us,” said Nancy Dubuc, President & CEO, A+E Networks, in response to Gateley’s email (you can read the full statement following Gateley’s note.)

Courtesy of Lifetime

In light of the departure of Gateley, who came from unscripted background, Gena McCarthy, currently EVP of Programming for sister A+E network fyi, has been upped to EVP, Head of Programming, Lifetime Unscripted & Head of Programming, fyi, adding oversight of Lifetime’s reality portfolio. Lifetime’s head of scripted Joanna Klein will continue to oversee scripted series.

One of Lifetime’s longest-serving and best known executives, SVP Original Movies Tanya Lopez, has been promoted to EVP, Movies, Limited Series & Original Movie Acquisitions, Lifetime and LMN. McCarthy and Lopez will both report to Paul Buccieri, President of A+E Studios and A+E Networks Portfolio Group, and Rob Sharenow, President, Programming, A+E Networks.

“We are incredibly excited to have Tanya, Gena and Joanna heading up our programming efforts for Lifetime,” Buccieri and Sharenow said in a joint statement. “The passion and creativity they bring to the table is unmatched, and their track records speak volumes, as this team has brought some of the biggest hits in women’s entertainment to Lifetime throughout their careers.”

In her new role of EVP, Movies, Limited Series & Original Movie Acquisitions, Lifetime and LMN, Lopez will continue to oversee all original movies for the network. During her tenure at Lifetime, Lopez has shepherded numerous highly-rated movies including Steel Magnolias, Flowers in the Attic, I Am Elizabeth Smart, and the recent successes Faith Under Fire and Cocaine Godmother.

McCarthy returns to Lifetime, adding oversight of unscripted programming and development for the network to her current responsibilities as EVP of Programming and Development for fyi, a position she has held since 2016, developing and executive producing such series as Married at First Sight, Seven Year Switch and Tiny House Nation. Previously, McCarthy was SVP, Reality and Alternative Programming for Lifetime, where she oversaw the development and creation of the popular series Dance Moms as well as Project Runway All Stars and Bring It!.

While Lifetime has had a steady stream of successful original movies and has formidable unscripted roster, led by the Project Runway and Little Women franchises, Dance Moms, Bring It! and Rap Game, the network has faced challenges rebuilding its scripted brand beyond the breakout success of UnReal. Next up are the launches of new drama series You, produced by Greg Berlanti, and the Jenji Kohan-produced American Princess. 

Here is the email from Gateley followed by Dubuc’s note:

Many of you know what has been going on in my life in the past several months. With the sudden passing of my beloved nanny of 16 years, a new nanny being a no-show and ghosting me, having stressed-out teenage kids and having to lift my dog to the curb because he has a slipped disk (I kid you not!), there have been some very clear signs from the universe to focus on my family and truly be present every day for my kids and husband, who have very generously supported a career choice that required me to fly across the country every other week for the past three years. So it is with a heavy heart that I must say that I have decided to leave my position at Lifetime. This was a dream job for me: to come back to the brand I love, where I started out 17 years ago as Assistant to the Head of Programming, and to BE the Head of Programming. It was my Working Girl moment. I am so grateful to Rob and Nancy for this opportunity.

During my three years here, I had the privilege to launch UnREAL, making the (at the time) scary decision during my first week here to launch the first three episodes digitally and then lobby for and develop three more seasons of the hit Peabody-winning show. I also had the luck to work with Meghan Hooper White and Sharon Bordas on another show that landed on every “Top 20 of the Year” list: Mary Kills People. With Joanna Klein leading her amazing team, I am proud to have attracted showrunners like Greg Berlanti, Sera Gamble and Jenji Kohan, solidifying Lifetime as a premium scripted destination. I cannot wait for the world to see the upcoming YOU and American Princess.

I am also excited that, with the leadership of Tanya Lopez and Meghan, Lifetime Movies has taken on new levels of brave storytelling (and success in the ratings!) with the award-winning and inspiring true stories like Flint, Surviving Compton, Cocaine Godmother, I Am Elizabeth Smart and Faith Under Fire. I’ll never forget Lifetime’s proud coverage of the historic 2016 Election Live with The View, the launch of unscripted hits like The Rap Game, events like Billboard Women in Music and zeitgeist moments like Glam Masters. My favorite failure, Date Night Live, was a proud galvanizing moment while Project Runway in its 16th season embraced body diversity with “models of all sizes” for the first time. I know Brie Bryant will do amazing things to launch her inspiring vision in the next chapter of Unscripted at Lifetime.

I also love the new faces of Lifetime — Laverne Cox, Penn Badgley, Shay Mitchell and Catherine Zeta-Jones (and don’t forget Meghan and Harry!) — but perhaps my favorite thing in the world is to give people their first chance at something. This job gave me the opportunity to give deserving WOMEN their first chances: Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer directing episodic television (and they did a damn good job), Stacy Rukeyser showrunning, Kyra Sedgwick directing Story of a Girl and getting a DGA nomination, and finally, presenting what had to be the first ever 100% all-female series creator panel at TCA.

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to work with Rob Sharenow and Paul Buccieri to establish the structure of Lifetime’s programming team going forward. I am excited that Tanya Lopez will continue to oversee all the movies including our originals and will be adding acquisitions to her purview. Gena McCarthy will return to Lifetime to lead Unscripted Programming, and Joanna Klein will continue to oversee Scripted Series. I love that Lifetime’s programming future will be controlled by three powerful women who love the brand as much as I do.

And here’s to the F word. For me, this letter conjures up many fond words.: Fempire. Flint. Faith Under Fire. Our muse: the “Fireheart.” But most importantly, the incredible Friends I’ve made here and will miss. Keep fighting the fight for #MeToo and #TimesUp, as we have always been the leaders of equality for women. In fact, there are some exciting passion projects of mine in this space that we are about to announce, for which I may stay on board.

You have and will change the world, Lifetime. You have changed mine.

Liz Gateley

Nancy Dubuc, President & CEO, A+E Networks:

I would like to thank Liz for her enormous contributions to Lifetime, and I am glad she will continue to lend her expertise on some upcoming projects for us. I deeply respect her choice to spend more time with her family. I also echo Liz’s delight, and I am personally proud that three strong women will be leading Lifetime’s programming teams. Congratulations to Tanya and Gena on their promotions.

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