Peacock programs new deal

Vet exec staying with net

Longtime NBC programming exec Karey Burke has signed a new deal at the network, keeping her at the Peacock for another two years.

Burke continues as executive vice president of primetime series development, a title she has held since last April. Burke was already in the middle of a two-year deal at NBC when she opted to extend her stay. Burke’s contract now lasts until June 2003.

With Jeff Zucker joining NBC as entertainment prexy, and presumably looking at making some executive changes, speculation had started to center on Burke’s future at the net.

But Zucker told Daily Variety on Monday that he’s glad Burke will be sticking around.

“In an increasingly difficult environment (for broadcasters), Karey really has been responsible for some of the best shows on TV, from ‘Will & Grace’ to ‘The West Wing,’ ” he said. “In my 10 weeks working here, she’s been an enormous help to me. I’m excited about a long-term future working together with her.”

Sources say Burke had an option to depart or renegotiate her contract if the Peacock shifted entertainment chiefs; the exec quickly opted to stay with the network. Zucker also signed off on the new deal.

“Jeff has made the last few months quite fun,” she said. “He brings a great energy to this place that I think we need as we move into the ever-changing future.”

At NBC, Burke has helped develop series such as “Providence” and “Ed,” and launched skeins including “Just Shoot Me” and “3rd Rock From the Sun.”

“To me this is the best job in town,” Burke said. “I get to work with the best writers, producers and directors in television. As long as it stays fun, I’m going to stick around.”

Prior to focusing on development last year, Burke had been serving as exec VP of comedy programs since May 1999 — but because the drama position wasn’t filled, Burke more or less oversaw both the comedy and drama departments.

Before that, Burke handled a mix of comedy and drama series as senior VP of primetime series. Under NBC’s old “team” approach, Burke oversaw the development of series and continued as a current exec throughout that skein’s life.

The Peacock dropped the team system last year, allowing Burke to solely focus on what she loves most: developing series. Oversight of current series went to Ted Frank.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot here, yet there’s still a lot more to accomplish,” Burke said. “The more challenging the game gets, the more interesting it is to me.”

Burke first joined NBC as a comedy development assistant in 1988. She transferred to drama in 1989, 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: Life on the Street.”

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