CBS Shakeup: Amy Reisenbach to Replace Kelly Kahl as Entertainment President

Programming chief Thom Sherman also plans to exit the network

Amy Reisenbach (Courtesy of CBS)
Amy Reisenbach (Courtesy of CBS)

Longtime CBS Entertainment executive Kelly Kahl will depart from his post as president, in which he served for the last five and a half years. The move, which CEO and president George Cheeks described as a “restructuring and streamlining of leadership” in an internal memo, comes after Kahl’s 26-year-long tenure at the broadcast network.

Taking over his role is Amy Reisenbach, who will assume leadership of all primetime, daytime and late night creative departments at the CBS Television Network, including comedy and drama development, alternative, specials, current programming, scheduling and casting, per the network.

In another shakeup for the company, programming head Thom Sherman is stepping down to enter into a producing deal, according to company memos obtained by TheWrap.

The executive shuffling marks the first for Cheeks since he joined the company, then-ViacomCBS, three years ago.

“Amy is a brilliant, creative executive and an incredible, highly collaborative leader who has worked closely with all parts of the Network and our Studios partners for many years,” Cheeks said in a statement. “She is a passionate advocate for writers, producers and the creative process, with proven programming instincts for what it takes to make and sustain highly successful television series. She also continues to be a strong proponent for diversity and inclusion and a key figure in the advancements CBS has made in front of and behind the camera in this area.”

Cheeks, who is also chief content officer of News & Sports at Paramount+, continued in a separate internal note, “Kelly is without peer in the broadcast television business. He is the architect of primetime schedules that have made CBS #1 for 19 of the last 20 seasons. He is the masterful and fearless scheduler who moved ‘Survivor’ and ‘CSI’ to Thursday, changing the landscape of that night after a decade of NBC dominance.”

Kahl, who will remain in the position until the end of the year, was promoted to president in May 2017. Since taking on the role, the 56-year-old Kahl has led the network to top rankings in audience viewership. His previous posts have included serving as the head of scheduling, in which he built and guided the time slots for shows like “Bull,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon” and all three editions of the “NCIS” franchise. He also shepherded the development and scheduling of newer hits “FBI” and its subsequent spinoffs, “The Neighborhood,” “Bob Hearts Abishola,” “Ghosts” and “The Equalizer.”

In a different memo, Cheeks cited Sherman’s departure as another example of restructuring at the company: “At the same time, I’m happy to share that Thom will remain connected to CBS. We are entering into an overall producing deal spanning CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios with Thom continuing to develop and produce programming for the Network and other parts of Paramount Global. Thom’s creative instincts about what kinds of shows CBS viewers love are clear to all of us. I’m glad that we’ll continue to draw upon those instincts and his programming talents in both a producing and advisory capacity.”

Before being named president, Kahl was senior executive vice president of CBS Primetime, since 2005. He joined CBS in January 1996 as VP of scheduling at CBS Entertainment, following three years as director of network research at Warner Bros. Television.

“The wondrous and improbable journey that started for me here 26 years ago has come to the finish line,” Kahl said in an internal memo. “I’ll be leaving CBS at the end of this year. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to work at CBS, America’s most watched network. (I’ll never get sick of hearing that.) I’ve lived a TV fan’s dream to work with the most talented writers, producers, and actors in television. Most importantly, i’ve loved being in the trenches alongside all of you — the finest executives and employees in show business. i want to thank every single person with whom i worked for your great efforts, creativity, and professionalism, all of which helped make this tremendous, pioneering network #1 for nearly 20 straight years. This place is special and so are its people.”

Cheeks concluded in his note, “Without question, Kelly has dedicated the last 26 years to building CBS and leaves it positioned for even further success. He has been humble, gracious and generous with his peers every step of the way. On a personal note, I want to thank Kelly for being a valued colleague and sounding board over the past two and a half years.”

Prior to being tapped for the head role, Reisenbach was EVP of current programs since June 2017, reporting to CBS Studios president David Stapf and Sherman. She joined the network in 2005 as a manager in the current programming department at CBS Studios. Her previous roles at the company include SVP of current programs, from 2015 to 2018, as well as positions at Warner Bros. Television, which formerly co-owned The CW along with CBS Studios.

“I want to thank George, Kelly Kahl, David Stapf and Thom Sherman for being amazing bosses and colleagues, and supporting my growth path to this moment,” Reisenbach added in a statement. “This Network means so much to the people who work here, the writers and producers who call it home, and the viewers who fall in love with our series. I’m excited and proud to continue our tradition of excellence that everyone at this Network strives to exceed every day.”

Sherman joined CBS the same year as Kahl, from his executive position at The CW. He worked closely with Kahl, whom he reported to, to oversee the development of programs “FBI,” “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “Fire Country,” among other hits. As EVP and head of programming at The CW, Sherman oversaw beloved genre series like “Arrow,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Flash.”

“This morning’s news was a shock, and I know you’re all as saddened by it as I am,” the executive said in an internal memo to staff. “Kelly is the brother I never had, my friend, and the best work-partner I could ever have imagined. I am beyond thankful for his resolute leadership, guidance, collaboration, and humor, and it’s hard to fathom that he and I won’t be doing this together anymore. And, alas, I too will be moving on to a new phase of my career next year. It has been my distinct privilege to have worked with all of you these past 5 1/2 years. You are a remarkable group of immensely talented people, the best in the business at what you do, and I am extremely honored to have stood with you as season-after-season together we programmed America’s #1 Network.”

Deadline first reported the news.