NBCUniversal is moving Universal Television Alternative Studio under Pearlena Igbokwe and the Universal Studio Group, which covers all aspects of TV production.
UTAS president Toby Gorman will remain on and join Igbokwe’s leadership team. Gorman will continue to oversee development, domestic sales strategy and creative affairs for the studio.
The decision follows the ouster of top unscripted executive Meredith Ahr, who had oversight of the Alternative Studio. Ahr was fired following an investigation into her and former NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy’s workplace behavior. Telegdy and Ahr were both accused by multiple employees of fostering a toxic workplace environment. Telegdy was let go in August amid a larger NBCU shakeup.
Ahr had led the unscripted TV division since 2018, where she oversaw all facets of the division including syndicated series like “Access Hollywood” and “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” Before that, she was president of Universal Television Alternative Studio. Ahr had been with NBC since 2001.
In a bombshell report on July 31 by The Hollywood Reporter, Telegdy was accused of numerous transgressions including mocking gay executives to their faces, using homophobic and misogynistic slurs and making disparaging comments about others’ physical appearance. Telegdy and Ahr were both accused of creating a “terrible, even traumatizing experience” in the reality division.
NBCU is in the middle of a major reorganization under Shell and streaming and TV chief Mark Lazarus. The new structure involves three new business units: Direct to Consumer, Entertainment Programming and Entertainment Business. Longtime NBCU executive Frances Berwick is heading up the Entertainment Business segment, while former Warner Bros. TV president Susan Rovner was brought over to lead Entertainment Programming. Peacock chief Matt Strauss is in charge of the direct to consumer segment.
The restructure effectively merges the NBC broadcast network’s operations with the rest of the company’s cable networks. NBC Sports will continue to be led by Pete Bevacqua. Telemundo Enterprises will remain separate under new chief Beau Ferrari. As part of the restructure, Chris McCumber is exiting as USA Network and Syfy president.
Read Igbokwe’s full note to staff below:
Please join me in welcoming the Universal Television Alternative Studios team to our Universal Studio Group family!
Beginning today, UTAS will be moving under our studio group umbrella and studio president Toby Gorman will join my USG leadership team. Toby will continue to oversee development, domestic sales strategy and creative affairs, while collaborating closely across all areas of production, casting, business affairs and international commercial development for UTAS.
In the last few years, UTAS has grown its unscripted and alternative formats slate exponentially adding series like “The Wall,” “World of Dance,” “The Titan Games,” “Songland” and “Making It” to their roster. They also house numerous overall deals with some talent straddling unscripted and scripted projects across UTAS and Universal Television.
Now, with UTV, UCP, NBCUniversal International Studios and UTAS under the same umbrella we can further support our creators’ ambitions to develop and produce great television – no matter the format.
We are so lucky to be adding Toby and his innovative team to our studio group and I look forward to collaborating with everyone at UTAS to further ignite our unscripted business.