Amazon Studios Reorg: Albert Cheng Becomes Full-Time COO, Vernon Sanders Now Solo Head Of Television

Albert Cheng, Vernon Sanders Amazon; NBC

EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios’ longtime Chief Operating Officer Albert Cheng, who also has served as Co-Head of Television for the past three and a half years, will focus solely on his duties as COO going forward, with Co-Head of Television Vernon Sanders becoming Head of U.S./Global Television at Amazon Studios.

The announcement was made this morning by Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, in a companywide memo obtained by Deadline.

In the note Salke, stressing Amazon Studios’ commitment to being “inclusive home for talent,” revealed that the company’s content in 2022 is targeted to grow more than 70% year over year, with more than twice as many local originals in 2022 versus 2021, and spoke of Amazon Studios’ planned expansion into new countries in Europe, Africa and South East Asia.

“With our next phase of growth ahead, it’s time for us to have a dedicated Chief Operating Officer, focusing completely on all facets of our thriving Studios business,” Salke wrote. “So I’ve asked Albert Cheng to concentrate full time on his role as COO of Amazon Studios, and step away from his responsibilities as Co-Head of Television with Vernon Sanders.”

As Co-Head of Television, Cheng has been overseeing business operations, with Sanders running creative, so the reorganization will not impact the reporting structure on the programming side.

“Albert’s top priority will be our business strategy — including our expansion in operations globally, and our investment in Amazon-owned IP, in particular working closely with Mike Hopkins and the Leadership team on the planned MGM integration,” Salke said.

Under the new U.S. Television leadership structure announced earlier this year, continuing to report to Sanders are Marc Resteghini, head of series development; Laura Lancaster, head of U.S. series (current); and Nick Pepper, head of studio creative content overseeing IP and overall/first look deals. Reporting to Resteghini are Kara Smith, head of drama series development; Jon Wax, head of genre series development; Chris Castallo, head of unscripted development; and Ryan Andolina, head of comedy development. Lancaster’s direct reports include Odetta Watkins, head of drama series, and Tom Lieber, head of genre series. Amanda Greenblatt, head of first look and overall deals, and Lauren O’Connor, head of IP and literary, report to Pepper.

Sanders “will take on sole responsibility for the oversight of Prime Video’s U.S. TV Originals team and IMDb TV’s Content and Programming team,” Salke wrote. “With the organization of single threaded leadership around three key areas of Development, Series & Studio Creative Content, we’ve already elevated our unique position in the industry. And the team is now hard at work on a 2022 slate of 60+ Original series, up from 39 currently, including the return of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys and Jack Ryan as well as the highly anticipated Citadel, The Power, IMDb TV’s Bosch spinoff and…drum roll, please…The Lord of the Rings.”

Cheng joined Amazon Studios as COO in 2015. He became an interim head of the studio in October 2017 following the ouster of Roy Price. After Salke joined Amazon Studios as new head in early 2018, she named Cheng COO and Co-Head Of Television, with former veteran NBC executive Sanders joining as Co-Head Of Television a couple of months later.

Here is Salke’s note:

Hello Team —

By just about any measure, Amazon Studios is on an incredible roll. More than ever before, we are being acknowledged for delivering creative at the highest level.

Our commitment to being an inclusive home for talent has never been greater – we have deals with some of the biggest names. Our content in 2022 is targeted to grow more than 70% year over year. Our global footprint is growing rapidly, with more than twice as many local Originals in 2022 vs 2021, and a planned expansion into new countries in Europe, Africa and South East Asia. I am so very proud of this extraordinary trajectory of success.

With our next phase of growth ahead, it’s time for us to have a dedicated Chief Operating Officer, focusing completely on all facets of our thriving Studios business. So I’ve asked Albert Cheng to concentrate full time on his role as COO of Amazon Studios, and step away from his responsibilities as Co-Head of Television with Vernon Sanders.

Albert’s exceptional creative insights and business skills have played a huge part in getting us to where we are today. Moving forward, as he switches from two hats to one, Albert and I will work even more closely together – if that is even possible! – on the Studios’ expanding initiatives. He will lead our growth as a Studio and content engine for Amazon. Albert’s top priority will be our business strategy — including our expansion in operations globally, and our investment in Amazon-owned IP, in particular working closely with Mike Hopkins and the Leadership team on the planned MGM integration. He will oversee annual planning and goal-setting, scaling production of shows and films significantly over the next few years, and enhance overall organizational development and operational excellence. He will still work closely with our series, movies and international teams as we continue to build upon our reputation as the global home for talent.

Vernon, a natural leader and creative force, will now serve as the singular Head of US/Global Television at Amazon Studios. He will take on sole responsibility for the oversight of Prime Video’s US TV Originals team and IMDb TV’s Content and Programming team. Our US Television leadership structure, which was announced earlier this year, has successfully allowed us to best support our talent and serve our viewers. With the organization of single threaded leadership around three key areas of Development, Series & Studio Creative Content, we’ve already elevated our unique position in the industry. And the team is now hard at work on a 2022 slate of 60+ Original series, up from 39 currently, including the return of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys and Jack Ryan as well as the highly anticipated Citadel, The Power, IMDb TV’s Bosch spinoff and…drum roll, please…The Lord of the Rings.

I’m confident that these changes will help us continue to think big, to innovate and deliver the best possible content for our customers. I’m so proud of what each and every one of you has done to get us to this incredible stage in our evolution — nothing wonderful is ever achieved alone. I can’t wait to reach even greater heights together.

Jen

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2021/10/amazon-studios-albert-cheng-full-time-coo-vernon-sanders-head-of-television-1234853936/