NBC programming vet Karey Burke has signed a new two-year deal with the Peacock, under which she has been named executive vice president of primetime series development.
Burke segues from exec VP of comedy, a title she has held since May. With her contract up, Burke was initially expected to ankle the network and had been rumored to be in contention for a number of high-profile gigs.
Burke ultimately decided to stay with NBC, where she helped develop series such as “Providence” and “Freaks & Geeks” and launched skeins including “Just Shoot Me” and “3rd Rock From the Sun.” She will continue to report to NBC Entertainment prexy Garth Ancier.
“I’ve had a great season working with Garth in development,” Burke said. “I love the team that’s been assembled here and respect them. I wanted to stay a part of that.”
Also, with a number of recent Peacock departures, such as scheduling exec Preston Beckman and movies/minis chief Lindy DeKoven, NBC brass were said to be anxious about letting too many high-level execs go.
Prod’n process overhauled
In conjunction with the Burke announcement, NBC has realigned its programming departments. Programming will be divided into development and current units, rather than comedy and drama.
That returns NBC to a configuration employed prior to 1994, when the network instituted a team system to oversee programs from pitch to production. Under that system, two separate units were each assigned certain studios and production companies, and handled both comedy and drama series.
The team system resolved complaints from some creators who didn’t like being passed off to a new group of execs once a show moved from development to current, but it also created an environment of internal competition as the teams occasionally duked it out for spots on the schedule.
Upon his arrival at the web last year, Ancier reorganized the teams into comedy and drama units. Burke took over the comedy slot, but the network didn’t fill the drama position (David Nevins, who headed one of the two teams alongside Burke, departed for Fox).
As a result, Burke had been more or less overseeing both the comedy and drama departments in recent months.
Comic, dramatic sides
In her new position, Burke will continue to oversee comedy and drama development at the network, but drop her duties with current programming. Ted Frank, already senior veep of current series, heads up the network’s current department and reports to Ancier.
“We fashioned a job that I think makes a lot of sense for me and the company — just focusing on development, which is so important as we move forward,” Burke said.
Burke first joined NBC as a comedy development assistant in 1988. She transferred to drama in ’89, rising to manager of current drama before leaving to join ABC Prods. as director of development in 1991.
The exec returned to NBC in 1993 as director of comedy development, rising to VP of primetime series in 1995 and then senior vice president of primetime series in 1996.
Burke has overseen production of series such as “Friends,” “Mad About You,” “NewsRadio” and “Homicide.”