Scheduling chief named to top post

Peacock scheduling chief Vince Manze has been tapped for the newly created post of prexy, NBC U Television Creative Services.

Announcement comes in the wake of Manze’s decision earlier this month to ditch his current gig as head of scheduling in order to focus on more creative endeavors (Daily Variety, Feb. 15). He’d been in talks with NBC U brass about the specifics of the new job.

With Manze moving on, Mitch Metcalf — exec VP of program planning and scheduling — will reassume oversight of the department. He’ll work closely with Lisa Vebber, senior VP of scheduling and strategic analysis.

Manze’s new post essentially makes him chief creative consigliore to NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chairmen Marc Graboff and Ben Silverman, to whom he’ll continue to report.

“He’s basically going to be this inhouse consultant to all of our television properties,” Graboff said. “The strength of Vince Manze is being this fountain of big ideas. He wakes up every morning with a million of them … and we’re going to be the beneficiary of those ideas.”

As part of his job, Manze will develop programming concepts, work on cross-platform and integration initiatives and develop marketing, sales and digital ideas for all NBC U properties. Projects could range from packaging a week of car-themed programming to pump up the premiere of “Knight Rider” to brokering a deal for a new holiday special.

He’ll also develop projects as an exec producer under a preexisting development deal. Manze’s credits include “She Spies” and “The Guys Next Door.”

Manze spent less than a year heading up scheduling at NBC. As former co-head of the NBC Agency, he had previously been known as one of the Peacock’s main marketing gurus, responsible for campaigns such as “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World.”

The nuts-and-bolts grind of the scheduling position ultimately proved to be a poor fit.

“So I went to Marc and Ben and made a proposal to them that would allow me the opportunity to expand my canvass to all of NBC Universal,” Manze said. “Ideas are much more valued these days than executives are, quite frankly.”

Manze will start out as a virtual one-man operation, pitching ideas directly to Silverman and Graboff. He’ll also be available to any part of the NBC U empire that wants his input, from Bravo to MSNBC.

While Manze’s tenure in scheduling was brief, exec said he’s pleased with what his team was able to accomplish. After launching frosh hit “Chuck” on Mondays, net managed to come through the WGA strike in a solid position (it’s currently ranked No. 2 season-to-date among adults 18-49).

As for Metcalf and Vebber, Silverman expressed confidence in their abilities, saying the duo “will not miss a beat as they step into this role, since they have key scheduling and research (experience) on a senior level with NBC for many years.” Execs “have been a pivotal factor in all of our past programming decisions,” Silverman added.

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