George Cheeks Leaves NBCUniversal Content Studios, Is in ‘Advanced Talks’ for Senior CBS Role

Cheeks could potentially succeed Joe Ianniello as head of the network

George Cheeks
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

George Cheeks has stepped down as vice chairman of NBCUniversal Content Studios, TheWrap has learned.

ViacomCBS Inc. is in “advanced talks” with Cheeks for a senior role at CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation tells TheWrap, a role that could potentially make him the successor to Joe Ianniello as head of the network.

Representatives for both NBCU and CBS did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. but an individual with knowledge of the matter told TheWrap that there will be some layoffs this week across ViacomCBS’s international operations, and also in some of the company’s administrative and business operations.

Cheeks’ exit comes after eight years with the company and just months after NBCU reorganized its television studios, rolling up Universal Television and Universal Content Productions into a single unit led by former Peacock exec Bonnie Hammer. He was moved over from co-running NBC Entertainment alongside Paul Telegdy as part of a larger reorganization of the company’s TV and streaming operations. In addition to his role as vice chairman, Cheeks continued to oversee late-night programming for NBC, a carry-over responsibility from his tenure at NBC.

News that Cheeks is stepping down follows the recent announcement that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke will retire this year and be succeeded by Jeff Shell.

Cheeks first joined NBC in 2012, holding a variety of positions in business affairs and late-night programming. He also served as co-president of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios in a role overseeing creative development and operations alongside Dawn Olmstead.

He and Telegdy were selected to succeed Bob Greenblatt, who exited NBC in 2018 and currently serves as chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment.

Prior to NBCU, Cheeks began his career as an entertainment associate at Loeb & Loeb in 1992 before going on to spent 14 years at Viacom, serving as executive vice president and general counsel for a portfolio of the company’s cable networks.

Deadline first reported the news of Cheeks’ exit.

Tim Baysinger and Tony Maglio contributed to this story.