Reality company expands its team
Reality vet Bunim-Murray Prods. is expanding its team in a big way, hiring a chief financial officer and adding development, business and digital execs.Among the new hires are Neil McCarthy, who’s been tapped to serve as the company’s first-ever CFO. Tribune alum David Berson also has joined as senior VP of business and legal affairs, while Eric Cristall has been tapped to serve as VP of development, John Greco has been named exec in charge of production, and Kesila Childers has been added as manager of new media. Also, Bunim-Murray has upped company vets Jeff Jenkins to exec VP of entertainment and programming and Scott Freeman to exec VP of development and current programming. Shuffles were orchestrated by Bunim-Murray prexy Jonathan Murray — who founded the shingle in 1987 with the late Mary-Ellis Bunim — and chief operating officer Gil Goldschein. “We’re at a point where we have 15 to 16 shows in production or pre-production all the time, and a strong development team coming up with new shows constantly,” Murray said. “We need to have the infrastructure to manage that.” Bunim-Murray is working on the 21st edition of “The Real World” and the 16th season of “The Real World/Road Rules Challenge,” both for MTV, and is casting for a potential third season of Oxygen’s “The Bad Girls Club.” The company also is behind shows including E! Entertainment’s “Living Lohan” and TruTV’s “Ski Patrol,” and is in talks to take over production on “Project Runway” as it moves to Lifetime. Bunim-Murray’s new BMP Films shingle, which was behind the doc “Autism: The Musical,” is now prepping its second feature, a biography of DHL founder Larry Hillblom. McCarthy previously served in senior roles at Capitol-EMI Music and Disney. He’ll be charged with pursuing various strategic opportunities for the company — including perhaps acquisitions or alliances with other companies. Bunim-Murray’s interest in such deals comes as several major reality companies, such as Mark Burnett Prods., have put themselves up for sale or have struck various deals in recent months. “We’re definitely looking at the landscape,” Murray said. “Part of it is to be as strong a company as you can and make the deals you want to make. There are times to be bigger and stronger, and it can be done through a number of means. With Neil onboard, we’ll take a focused, disciplined approach to that. Everything’s open.” Cristall joins from New Line TV, while Greco moves to Bunim-Murray from Ellman Entertainment. Childers has been charged with overseeing Bunim-Murray’s original digital content, including MTV.com’s new “The Real World Dailies.” Childers joined from the Core. Jenkins oversees a slate that includes shows like E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” while Freeman will handle new and returning shows while also serving as an exec producer for the “Challenge” series.