EXCLUSIVE: Kathryn Busby, EVP and head of TriStar Television, is leaving the Sony television label to become President of Original Programming at Starz. Reporting to Starz President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch, Busby will lead the programming and development team, staying the course set by the premium network and global streaming platform several years ago with a programming mandate committed to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.
She succeeds Christina Davis, who left Starz in June.
“Kathryn is an incredible well-seasoned executive who has a long-running track record of developing series with unique voices,” said Hirsch. “We are excited to welcome her to the Starz team where I know she’ll be instrumental in furthering the company’s commitment to deliver programming for women and underrepresented audiences.”
Busby, who has 25 years of experience developing and producing content across multiple platforms, emerged as a frontrunner for the Original Programming President job alongside a couple of other accomplished female TV executives about two months ago. Once she was offered the position, Busby spent the last couple of weeks negotiating her exit from Sony, where she still had time on her contract. In addition to her duties at TriStar Television, she also sat on the Sony Pictures Action Council, which implemented the studio’s racial equity and inclusion initiatives. Search is currently underway for her replacement.
“Kathryn is a talented, respected, creative leader and we have been very fortunate to work with her at Sony Pictures Television. We know this is a wonderful opportunity for her and an exciting next step in her career. We wish her all the best and look forward to continuing to work together in her new role at Starz,” said Jeff Frost, President, Sony Pictures Television Studios and Jason Clodfelter, Co-President, Sony Pictures Television Studios who oversee TriStar Television.
Throughout her career to date, Busby has held leadership roles at Sony Pictures Television, Turner Broadcasting, New Line Cinema, The Carsey-Werner Company and Universal Television.
Since taking the reins of TriStar Television in January 2020, notable projects she was involved in include the upcoming Apple series The Afterparty, starring Tiffany Haddish and Sam Richardson, from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and high-profile pieces of development such as a Malcolm X series based on the novels X: A Novel and The Awakening of Malcolm X from his daughter Illyasah Shabazz, and a series based on Kirsten Chen’s upcoming novel Counterfeit.
Busby previously served as SVP Development at Sony Pictures Networks where she developed and produced numerous projects including popular drama series Absentia, starring Stana Katic, which ran for three seasons on Amazon Prime Video and AXN in some territories.
Prior to joining Sony Pictures Television, Busby served as VP Original Programming for TBS, where she shepherded original content. There she partnered with Franklin Leonard, creator of The Black List, to create a joint initiative to identify diverse new writing talent for blind script deals and staffing consideration.
Busby’s résumé includes a stint as SVP Production at New Line, where she was an executive producer of the Sex and the City movie. Prior to that, she was SVP/Head of Development at The Carsey-Werner Company, where she oversaw the development of Grounded for Life and The Tracy Morgan Show. She also worked on 3rd Rock From the Sun and That ’70s Show. She began her TV career as Director of Comedy Development at Universal Television.
In addition to decades of television experience, Busby is also an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. She directed the short film Max and Josh, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her debut film, My Purple Fur Coat, won Best Children’s Short at the Houston Black Film Festival.
“I am inspired by Starz’s dedication and commitment to fearless, unapologetic stories and characters, and I am beyond thrilled to work with the extraordinary team there,” Busby said. “The time is now for storytelling that celebrates the full spectrum of humanity, and the place to do it is Starz. This is an amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.”