CBS ups duo to run drama department

Davis, Zotnowski named senior VPs

CBS Entertainment has tapped Christina Davis and Robert Zotnowski to run its drama development department, upping the duo to senior veepees in the process.

In addition, Yelena Chak — most recently an exec at Jerry Bruckheimer Television — has been named director of drama development.

Promotions of Zotnowski and Davis makes official a de facto structure that’s been in place at the Eye since August, when former drama chief Laverne McKinnon took a leave of absence. Exec ankled the net altogether last fall (Daily Variety, Nov. 17) and has since resurfaced as the head of Mike Newell’s production banner.

Davis and Zotnowski will report to CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler.

“I’ve watched Robert and Christina grow from promising young programmers to talented, skilled and accomplished development executives,” Tassler said, also praising the pair for their “talent and relationships in the community.”

While Davis and Zotnowski have been the senior execs in drama for the past year, Tassler was more hands-on than normal during the most recent development season. It was a key year for CBS that saw the net veer from the procedural path in an attempt to develop more watercooler skeins.

Efforts yielded series orders for projects such as the musical “Viva Laughlin” and the sex-soaked period piece “Swingtown.”

The Eye’s new drama chiefs have worked as a team since May 2005, when they were named VPs of drama development. They’ve been involved in developing CBS success stories such as “Criminal Minds,” “Ghost Whisperer” and “Shark.”

Davis has been at CBS since 1997, working first as Tassler’s assistant. She was bumped to supervisor in 1999, manager in 2000 and director in 2002.

Zotnowski came to the Eye in 1998, initially working as a manager in the net’s current department and focusing on comedies. He was upped to director in 2000 and made VP in 2003; he shifted to drama development in 2005.

Chak, a former agent trainee at UTA, spent the last two years in the Bruckheimer camp, overseeing day-to-day operations on the CBS skeins “Without a Trace” and the now-canceled “Close to Home.” Before that, she worked at NBC Entertainment.

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