NBCUniversal is making more top executive changes in the company’s TV operations.
Universal TV President Pearlena Igbokwe has been upped to Chairman, Universal Studio Group (fka NBCUniversal Content Studios), which encompasses Universal Television, Universal Content Productions (UCP) and NBCUniversal International Studios. She will report directly to Jeff Shell, CEO, NBCUniversal.
Igbokwe will succeed in the top NBCU TV studio job company veteran Bonnie Hammer who is taking on a new role as Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal. Hammer fills a void left by the abrupt recent departure of NBCU Vice Chairman Ron Meyer. While the corporate advisor job title is the same, I hear Hammer’s role will be different, leaning on her strengths as an accomplished TV executive. She also will focus on prosocial initiatives across the entire company. Hammer will continue to report to Shell.
Dawn Olmstead, President of UCP, and Jeff Wachtel, President of NBCUniversal International Studios, will now report to Igbokwe.
“This is an exciting time for our business, with demand for entertainment content at an all-time high and more distribution platforms available than ever before,” Shell said. “Our television studios are key growth engines for the company, and Pearlena is ideally suited to lead them. She has extraordinary taste and is well-respected within NBCU, and throughout the global creative community.”
I hear in conjunction with her new role, Hammer has extended her contract at the company where she has spent almost four decades, dating back to her time at pre-merger Universal TV.
“I am extremely pleased to be gaining Bonnie as a trusted advisor,” Shell continued. “Her deep industry experience, impeccable creative instincts and 25-plus years of prosocial advocacy will be immensely valuable to me and our company.”
A recent NBCU reorganization consolidated all NBCU English-language linear networks into one group in a new centralized structure under Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. The group is being overseen by Frances Berwick on the business side and another executive on the programming side who is yet to be named but is expected to be Warner Bros. TV President Susan Rovner.
As President of Universal Television, Igbokwe oversaw all aspects of the studio, leading it to a record production volume. Some of the programs under Igbokwe’s purview include the acclaimed comedies Russian Doll, The Good Place, Superstore, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Little America, popular dramas Good Girls and New Amsterdam, and Dick Wolf’s new FBI and FBI: Most Wanted. Prior to that, she served as EVP and head of Drama Programming, for NBC Entertainment, where she developed the top-rated new broadcast dramas three out of her four years in the position. Before joining NBCUniversal, Igbokwe worked at Showtime for 20 years, where she was involved in developing a variety of hit series including Dexter and Nurse Jackie.
Hammer took oversight of NBCU Content Studios in the October 2019 sweeping restructuring of NBCU’s broadcast, studio and digital operations. Previously, Hammer, as Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and Digital Enterprises, oversaw the creation of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming platform. In her 40-plus-year career Hammer has been involved in every facet of the television business. Under her leadership, the company’s cable entertainment portfolio, which included USA Network, SYFY, Bravo, Oxygen, E! Entertainment, Universal Kids as well as Universal Content Productions (UCP), generated record profits and viewership. Additionally, USA was the most-watched entertainment cable channel for 13 consecutive years.
Throughout her career, Hammer has sought ways to use her platforms to promote social inclusivity. She created and launched a prosocial campaign designed to fight hate and discrimination in America, “Erase the Hate,” in 1994. The initiative received a Governors Award from the Television Academy for its documentaries and specials, community programs and educational materials. She serves on the Board of Directors of eBay, AFI and IAC/InteractiveCorp.
“Over the course of my career at NBCUniversal, I have been fortunate to touch every aspect of the television business and I am ready to take on this new corporate role. It is the perfect next chapter and I am delighted to pass the baton to Pearlena,” said Hammer. “She has a long track record of success and is the ideal person to take the helm of the studio group.”