Harbert takes reins of NBC Studios unit

Prod'n prexy inks 4-year pact

After a lengthy search, NBC has named former ABC Entertainment chairman Ted Harbert prexy of the Peacock’s fast-growing NBC Studios production arm (Daily Variety, Aug. 19).

Harbert will oversee all development and production at NBC Studios, which is producing a growing number of the Peacock’s primetime shows, as well as its wide-ranging slate of daytime, latenight and Saturday morning teen comedy vehicles.

NBC brass approached a handful of other candidates for the post over the past few months, including Harbert’s younger brother, Chris Harbert, a top TV agent with United Talent Agency.

Like, he knows

Ted Harbert, who spent 20 years at ABC but most recently has been a producer for DreamWorks TV on the Alphabet sitcom “It’s Like, You Know …,” inked a four-year pact with the Peacock. He reports to NBC West Coast prexy Scott Sassa.

“Ted will build upon last season’s success at NBC Studios, which produced the top (new) comedy and drama series — ‘Will & Grace’ and ‘Providence,’ ” Sassa said. “The combination of his business and creative skills … make him an ideal candidate for this job.”

Harbert’s primary responsibility will be to develop hot prospects for the Peacock, but he’ll also have the leeway to shop projects to other webs. The production arm’s parentage shouldn’t get in the way of selling a promising project to a rival web, just as NBC still does a lot of business with outside production entities, Harbert said.

Door kept open

“One of the things that Scott and Garth (Ancier, prexy of NBC Entertainment) have done very smartly is to say, ‘We want NBC Studios to produce for the network, but we also need other studios to bring us their best stuff,’ ” Harbert said.

“That’s the only way to stay profitable. The plan for (NBC Studios) is that I’ll be working with a number of writers, and it’s unlikely that all of those ideas will be right for the NBC schedule, so I’ll be able to take those ideas elsewhere.”

Indeed, NBC Studios has been building up its writer-producer roster over the past few months, inking deals with “Providence” creator John Masius, among others.

Harbert said he doesn’t expect to recruit too many more creatives this year, but he will be looking to fill at least one exec post. Last week, David Bartis ankled as NBC Studios’ senior veep of primetime series to head up a new production division at 3 Arts Entertainment.

Harbert said his experiences over the past 2-1/2 years as a producer for DreamWorks have given him invaluable insight into the development process from a producer’s vantage point. Before that, Harbert worked his way up the ranks at ABC, starting out in 1977 as a feature film coordinator and rising to chairman of ABC Entertainment in 1993.

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