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Layoffs Hit CBS Studios, Paramount TV in Scripted Restructuring

Nearly 30 West Coast employees will lose their jobs as Paramount+’s scripted originals team merges with the company’s TV studios

Nearly 30 people are set to be hit by layoffs at CBS Studios and Paramount TV Studios, which will be merged with Paramount+’s scripted team, an individual with knowledge confirmed to TheWrap.

Back in October, George Cheeks, president and CEO at CBS and chief content officer of News & Sports at Paramount+ took over the shepherding of both studios. At the time, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish alluded that Paramount TV Studios, headed by president Nicole Clemens, and CBS Studios, led by president David Stapf, would work in conjunction with one another.

Per an internal memo from Cheeks’ office, obtained by TheWrap, CBS Studios and PTVS are remaining largely intact and independent from each other, though department heads will “support and work across” both brands in the spirit of “healthy collaboration.”

“To reiterate, this new structure will feature two independently operated brands – CBS Studios and Paramount Television Studios (PTVS) – led respectively by David Stapf and Nicole Clemens, each with their own separate creative teams,” the memo reads. “This will maintain two dynamic entry points for creative talent to bring a wide range of broadcast, cable, and streaming content into our company. It also provides us the desired balance of having dedicated brands and divisional/creative leadership bolstered by streamlined support operations.”

The reorganization means that creative executives from the Paramount+ scripted Originals team that have reported to Clemens will be integrated into the Paramount TV Studios team. Jana Helman has been promoted to head of development for PTVS. Helman previously served as SVP of original content at the Paramount+ predecessor CBS All Access. With the reorg, Clemens will be focusing solely on PTVS leadership duties (she had been approached about taking over programming duties at Paramount+ following Julie McNamara’s departure), meaning that Jenna Santoianni’s position as EVP overseeing day-to-day operations under Clemens has been eliminated.

Here’s the rest of the structure as follows: Eric Gray will be head of finance for both studios, continuing to report to Bryon Rubin, chief operating and financial officer for CBS. Kim Doneche will oversee legal matters for both studios and continue reporting to Christa D’Alimonte, EVP and General Counsel for Paramount Global. On the production side, Kevin Berg leads CBS Studios, while Liz Miller oversees for PTVS. Erika Kirkwood will shepherd business affairs for PTVS with Allison Brightman leading for CBS Studios. Deborah Aquila heads casting for PTVS series and Meg Liberman for CBS Studios shows.

Under the new structure, each studio is free to pursue content of all genres and for all mediums; this includes taking full advantage of both the Paramount Global ecosystem of broadcast, cable and streaming, as well as third-party platforms. With the international free-to-air networks now under Cheeks’ purview, both studios will be collaborating more with Maria Kyriacou (UK and Australia president) and Dario Turovelzky (LatAm general manager) to support the company’s increased focus on content globalization.

“The bottom line – we have two prestigious, major studios that are laser focused on being global, multi-platform and collaborative,” the memo concludes. “And, we have the framework, resources, and platforms to be an attractive creative destination for anyone. Thank you all for everything you have done to position these two storied brands for success. And I truly appreciate everything you’ll do in the days ahead to take us to even greater heights.”

Earlier in November, it was announced that Paramount Global would begin mass layoffs affecting less than 100 employees. The majority of the cuts impacted the conglomerate’s ad sales group, which has been undergoing a transformation led by new Paramount Advertising head John Halley. Employees in the CBS Studios and Paramount Television Studios divisions were also announced to be affected. This follows the news from October of David Nevins’ exit from his role as CCO of Scripted Originals for Paramount+, and chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks. The decisions across the board are part of what Bakish revealed on a Nov. 2 earnings call, where he said the company would be taking steps to “improve efficiency across our organization” due to “ongoing macroeconomic pressures” impacting the industry and advertising market.