ABC rounded out its extreme executive makeover Thursday, recruiting Touchstone execs Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs and Josh Barry to run the net’s drama department.
The hires were the first by new ABC Primetime Entertainment exec VP Francie Calfo, who joined the net last month. Moves set up a Touchstone reunion of sorts at ABC; Calfo, Patmore-Gibbs and Barry all worked under ABC Entertainment topper Steve McPherson at the Alphabet web’s sister studio.
Under the restructure, Patmore-Gibbs has been named senior VP of drama development, overseeing all day-to-day operations inside the department. Barry joins as VP of drama development, while the net has also upped Jocelyn Diaz to director in the department.
The new team fills the gap left by several departures in ABC’s drama department. Former drama chief Thom Sherman left the net last spring to head up J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot shingle, while drama execs Julie McNamara and Heather Kadin (who’s now at Warner Bros. TV) left ABC following this past development season.
While at Touchstone, Patmore-Gibbs and Barry helped develop many of ABC’s new dramas, including “Lost,” “Life as We Know It” and “Desperate Housewives” — all of which are earning strong critical buzz.
But Patmore-Gibbs admits she’s inherited a tough mandate at ABC, which hasn’t found success launching dramas in recent years. ABC hasn’t yet found a franchise staple in the vein of NBC’s “Law & Order” and CBS’ “CSI.”
“There’s still a lot of real estate in terms of drama at the network, and we want to fill in the blanks,” she said. “We’ll spend this next development season looking for the next procedural hit. Steve wants to find his ‘CSI,’ but it will have our particular spin, as the ancestral home of ‘NYPD Blue’ and ‘The Practice’ — shows with a strong character element.”
Patmore-Gibbs, who officially joined ABC this week, said the chance to be reunited with McPherson and Calfo convinced her to move over to the network.
“We developed a shorthand and a sense of trust,” she said. McPherson “didn’t need to sell me on the job, (and) Francie trained me from the very beginning.”
Patmore-Gibbs most recently served as senior VP of drama at Touchstone, also overseeing buzz shows such as UPN’s upcoming “Kevin Hill.” She joined the studio in December 2000, having previously worked as a senior exec at Mutual Film Co. (“Saving Private Ryan”).
The exec’s credits also include a stint at Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s Bedford Falls as senior VP of development.
Barry, meanwhile, has served as exec director of drama at Touchstone since 2002, working on shows including “Alias” and “The Amazing Race.” Before joining Touchstone in 2000, he served for four years at Steven Bochco Prods.
Diaz first joined ABC in 2001; she was previously director of current series at ABC.