Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke Talks TV, Film Biz At USC Forum

Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, who oversees film and TV series for the streaming service, isn’t shoveling dirt on broadcast TV.

“I don’t think that it’s on its deathbed,” said Salke, speaking today at the Gould School of Law’s Institute on Entertainment Law and Business, a media summit at USC. “I think it is evolving quickly. But I still believe, knowing the amount of people we were reaching at NBC, that there’s a huge audience that still comes.”

Driving that traffic is the quality of some broadcast offerings, Salke said. “It’s incredibly difficult, but there are really smart writers and producers working under contract with all these networks, and they shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Salke keynoted the event in a luncheon conversation with Bruce M. Ramer of the law firm Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman. During the conversation, she talked about her career at NBC prior to moving to Amazon this year as head of entertainment.

“I was obviously coming in at a time where the company was looking to hire a woman, people were sort of ramping up, ‘Who are the women who might get this job?’” she said. “That was all before I had spoke to anyone at Amazon or even thought about going there. But then once I did get a call to come talk to [Amazon product head] Jeff Blackburn here in Los Angeles, I did come out of that meeting knowing that we had a great meeting of the minds and connection.”While a TV veteran, Salke had to quickly get up to speed on the film side. “It’s a tough business, and this movie business is a new one for me,” Salke said. One thing that Amazon will focus on is quality. “We want movies that will reach a wider audience while not sacrificing quality or excellence in any way.”Deciding what ideas belongs where in the Amazon universe is part of the process.

“For us, our sweet spot is this addictive, can’t-miss, global television shows,” she said. “That lives at the center of what we do. That’s going to be the most effective and getting people to come to Prime and stay with Prime. And then if something comes in and you feel that it’s best suited as a movie or miniseries, you can come [make] that too. It’s harder and more financially challenging to take the big swings than on TV shows, because the financial upside is so clear.”

Salke said a key goal is to provide more programming that appeals to women, noting deals with Nicole Kidman and Reed Morano, a show in development from Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, and another by Blake Lively.

This article was printed from