Exec set as new president of television

Merv Griffin Entertainment is moving forward following the death of its founder, tapping former Mark Burnett Prods. exec Roy Bank to fill the newly created post of president of television.

Bank joins the company following a three-year run with Burnett., where he had been head of development, production and corporate operations. During that time, Bank helped Burnett expand into the gameshow arena with skeins such as “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” and the upcoming “Amnesia.”

Hiring is meant to signal MGE’s intent to maintain — and even increase — its smallscreen output, according to Griffin Group toppers Ron Ward and Rob Pritchard.

“We have a great creative team here, but when we lost Merv, we had a big void we needed to fill,” Ward told Daily Variety. “It’s big shoes to fill, but I know that if Merv had met Roy, he would’ve said to us, ‘Lock that door and sign that boy.’ He’s a perfect fit.”

Ward said he and Pritchard were introduced to Bank via William Morris’ Mark Itkin, who arranged the meeting that resulted in Bank’s hiring. Bank’s enthusiasm for television production is what clinched the deal.

“We’re going to pretty much hand over the television department to Roy,” Ward said. While Bank will report to Ward and Pritchard, he’ll be given a wide berth.

Bank, who quietly left Mark Burnett Prods. a few weeks ago, said he left Burnett because “it was time to branch out and try something new.”

He considered several exec positions and potential entrepreneurial opportunities before taking the MGE post, which he said combines elements of both.

“This job is a chance to expand and mold and grow the company,” Bank said. “But there’s also an infrastructure here, a legacy, a real company that I can take hold of and hopefully run for many years.”

Bank said his mission is to “take an iconic brand” and use the “goodwill and legacy” of Griffin’s name to build up the TV division. He plans to be active in all parts of the medium, both scripted and unscripted.

Bank’s hiring comes just a week after MGE got word that its frosh syndie quizzer “Crosswords” had been renewed for a second season. Bank said he plans to work with the producers of the show to make improvements for next fall.

In addition to co-creating and exec producing “Fifth Grader” with Burnett, Bank worked on Burnett’s “The Apprentice” and “Rock Star: INXS” prior to officially joining Mark Burnett Prods. He and Burnett first worked together when Bank was at Reveille, which co-produced Burnett’s NBC skein “The Restaurant.”

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