EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Television Studios Co-President Chris Parnell will be departing the studio later this month after more than 16 years. He will be joining Apple TV+ in a senior programming role on the domestic development team, reporting to Matt Cherniss, Apple’s head of scripted development and current programming.
In light of Parnell’s departure, Jason Clodfelter will become solo Co-President, SPT Studios. He will continue to report to Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television Studios, who announced Parnell’s pending exit and outlined the studio’s leadership structure going forward in an internal memo this morning (you can read it below the story).
The well-liked Parnell, a high-profile addition to Apple’s TV programming team, will shepherd development for the streamer’s growing slate of premium, original series.
As Co-President of SPT Studios, the production side of SPE’s television business, Parnell guided all creative aspects of the studio’s domestic television business alongside fellow co-president Clodfelter. The duo were elevated to the post in July 2017 from EVPs and co-heads of U.S. drama development and programming for SPT.
Since joining SPT in December 2003, Parnell has helped develop many of Sony’s high-profile broadcast, cable, and streaming series, including the Apple TV+ original drama, For All Mankind, which has been renewed for a second season. Parnell has led development on such popular Sony shows as Outlander, The Blacklist, Breaking Bad, The Boys, Preacher, the upcoming Wheel of Time for Amazon, and more. He is known both for the wide range of series he has worked on over the years — from Outlander, The Blacklist and Timeless to Preacher, The Tick and Electric Dreams — and his passion for comic book/genre fare. More recently, Parnell has been overseeing development on a suite of TV series based on Sony’s Universe of Marvel characters, which is being spearheaded by Phil Lord and Chris Miller under their overall deal at the TV studio.
“He has been an innovator and champion of bold new ideas, committed to finding and shining the spotlight on fresh voices and has never shied away from stories that pushed the boundaries,” Frost said in his email to staff, which highlighted Parnell’s contributions to the studio and wished him continuous success in the new endeavor.
In the memo, Frost also said that Clodfelter will now oversee the studio’s U.S. drama and comedy development, U.S. scripted and current programming, movies and miniseries, talent and casting, as well as TriStar Television, Affirm Television and Gemstone Studios. SPT Studios unscripted business and physical production unit will now report to Frost.
After spending virtually his entire career to date at SPT and being on the buying side of the business for more than 16 years, Parnell wanted to try a different challenge and look at the creative process from a different perspective, leading to his decision to leave the close-knit leadership team at SPT.
At Apple, he will be reuniting with former SPT Presidents Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht who have been leading Apple’s foray into original programming as heads of worldwide video. In addition to his former bosses Van Amburg and Erlicht, who years ago gave him his start by promoting him from an assistant to an executive, at Apple Parnell will work again with other former SPT executives some of whom he had hired at the studio.
Apple’s upcoming slate of original series includes Foundation, Hedy Lamar, starring and executive produced by Gal Gadot; Lisey’s Story, written and executive produced by Stephen King and starring Julianne Moore; and the limited comedy series The Shrink Next Door, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd.
Here is Frost’s memo:
I’m writing to share some important news about our leadership team at Sony Pictures Television.
Co-President of SPT Studios, Chris Parnell, will be leaving the company later this month to take on a creative role at Apple TV. Chris has been a tremendous partner, leader, collaborator and friend during his more than 16-year tenure at the studio. He will be greatly missed. We have multiple projects with Apple and we look forward to working with him closely in his new capacity.
I want to personally thank Chris for the contributions he’s made to the studio over the years. He has been an innovator and champion of bold new ideas, committed to finding and shining the spotlight on fresh voices and has never shied away from stories that pushed the boundaries. Over the course of his time at SPT he’s been instrumental in developing some of the studio’s most prolific and iconic series such as Outlander, The Blacklist, Preacher, Breaking Bad and The Boys.
Following Chris’ departure, Jason Clodfelter will continue in his role, serving as co-President, SPT Studios. He will oversee the studio’s U.S. drama and comedy development, U.S. scripted and current programming, movies and miniseries, talent and casting, as well as TriStar Television, Affirm Television and Gemstone Studios. SPT Studios unscripted business and our physical production unit will now report to me.
Please join me in wishing Chris continued success as he embarks on the next chapter in his career. If you have any questions, please reach out to me or your respective P&O partners.