News that caught many in town by surprise out of the Peacock today is that in order to keep Hammer in the fold for a new multi-year pact, NBC Universal has given her oversight of scripted cable production — cutting Universal Media Studios in half, basically — and as well as oversight of a bunch of its fledgling networks like Sleuth, Chiller and Universal HD. She exchanges the mouthful of a title of prexy USA Network/Sci Fi Channel for the slightly streamlined prexy, Cable Entertainment and Cable Studio, as reported by Variety’s Michael Schneider (news first broke on the L.A. Times’ website).
Rewarding Hammer with more turf comes as no surprise; her USA Network and Sci Fi Channel are among the brightest jewel’s in NBC U’s crown. She’s highly regarded by NBC U topper Jeff Zucker. We know she’s been on short lists to conquer other fields within the conglom. What is a little surprising is that her gain this time around would come partly at the expense of NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chairmen Marc Graboff and Ben Silverman and Universal Media Studios prexy Katherine Pope. Not that those three don’t have their hands full with the ongoing rehab of NBC proper (two words: “Bionic Woman”), but as we all know, execs tend to get fussy about losing turf.
Another immediate question is if Hammer’s bump could have a ripple-effect within USA Network. In January, Sci Fi channel marketing guru Dave Howe was boosted from exec vp and general manager to prexy of Sci Fi Channel. There’s already insta-speculation that a similar promotion could be in the works for one of Hammer’s hard-working lieutenants at USA.
(Pictured above: Bonnie Hammer in December at the L.A. premiere of Sci Fi miniseries “Tin Man,” with a new-model Toto.)