Angela Bromstad has been upped to sole prexy of NBC Universal Television Studio, with former partner David Kissinger taking on a new gig heading up Conan O’Brien’s Peacock-based production company.
Moves are effective immediately.
Kissinger’s shift to Conaco, headed by O’Brien and “Late Night” exec producer Jeff Ross, is a big plus for the shingle, which is now expected to become more of a pilot player with the addition of a Hollywood vet such as Kissinger.
It also completes the transition of NUTS into its own studio, separate from both Universal Network TV (headed by Kissinger) and NBC Studios (run by Bromstad). Latter two studios were merged to form NUTS following the Peacock’s purchase of U, with Bromstad and Kissinger tapped as co-presidents last June.
NBC U TV Group prexy Jeff Zucker said he hopes Kissinger’s shift to Conaco will help the shingle achieve the sort of success that Lorne Michaels has had with his Broadway Video since former Peacock exec JoAnn Alfano took over Michaels’ TV division.
“We’ve seen the fruits from what Lorne Michaels has been able to do, and that’s what we all hope will happen with Conaco,” Zucker told Daily Variety, citing both Kissinger and Alfano’s “experience and knowledge of how (NBC) operates.”
“It’s win-win for us,” Zucker added. “We get to keep two strong players in two key places.”
As for Bromstad, Zucker said the exec is “a savvy, progressive and imaginative” exec who has “earned her stripes among her industry peers.”
“She’s served in every role in the company, dating back to when she was in longform,” he added. “She has an intimate knowledge of both NBC and the town, and I think she’s a leader who can take the studio into the future.”
Bromstad said that while she’ll miss Kissinger’s “dry sense of humor” around the office, she’s already started talking to him about future projects. “We’re looking for Conaco to really step up, especially in the comedy arena,” she said.
Kissinger’s departure from NUTS had been rumored for months, with the exec said to be in the mix for several gigs around town, including topper of Joe Roth’s new Par-based production pod.
While he wouldn’t discuss other job prospects, Kissinger said he was ready to make a change in his career.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, but a very positive one,” he said. “The fun of being a studio exec is that you get to dabble in many things — but you never get the true satisfaction of being a parent to anything.”
Kissinger also cited O’Brien and Ross’ commitment to producing quality fare as a reason to hitch his star to Conaco.
“The real challenge facing everyone in TV now is how to revive the half hour,” he said. Kissinger said Conaco would focus not only on half-hour sitcoms but also dramas with comic touches, along the lines of two skeins produced under Kissinger’s watch: “House” and “Monk.”
Conaco has produced a couple of pilots since its formation in 2000 but has yet to snag a scripted series greenlight. Kissinger expects to up the shingle’s pilot production a bit, but he has no plans to turn the company into a machine.
“There’s no vision of volume being the definition of our success. The vision is quality,” he said, adding that O’Brien has “a unique moment to turn some of his energy” toward TV production in the three years before he takes over as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2009.
O’Brien said adding “someone of David’s caliber” will take Conaco to the “next level.”
Before heading up NUTS with Bromstad, Kissinger ran Universal Network Television for five years. In addition to beefing up Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order”-branded series, Kissinger was involved in developing skeins such as “Battlestar Galactica” and NBC’s version of “The Office.”
A.J. Morewitz, who had headed Conaco’s Burbank offices, will stay on as VP of the company, working with Kissinger. During his tenure, shingle produced the buzzworthy comedy pilot “Beat Cops” and the 2001 reality skein “Lost.”
Over at NUTS, Zucker said the studio will end up having “quite a good year,” particularly “once all the pickups are said and done.” NBC will likely be picking up several additional NUTS-produced pilots in the coming weeks, with “Lies and the Wives We Tell Them To” and “Filmore Middle” said to be serious contenders.
Bromstad, who is expected to finalize a new exec structure for NUTS in the coming days, said keeping the studio in business with multiple nets is her chief goal.
“The big challenge is maintaining our stature as a major supplier to everyone while really focusing on the needs of the network,” she said.
Bromstad has been at NBC since 1994, starting her career in the net’s longform division. She shifted to VP of primetime series for NBC Studios in 1999, working on skeins such as “Ed,” “Providence” and “Profiler.”
After a stint at the network, where she pushed shows such as “Boomtown” and “American Dreams,” Bromstad was tapped to lead NBC Studios in 2003.