Jamila Hunter joins Oprah Winfrey Net

Former NBC exec is new head of programming

Former NBC exec Jamila Hunter has joined OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network as the burgeoning cabler’s new head of programming.

Hunter, who officially starts June 10, fills the void left by the departure earlier this year of Robin Schwartz. As president, Schwartz had been overseeing programming at the channel.

Hunter hasn’t been given Schwartz’s president title, but creative affairs senior VP Nina Wass and programming senior VP Maria Grasso will report to her, much as they had with Schwartz.

OWN chief exec Christina Norman announced Hunter’s appointment Thursday morning.

“Jamila shares my passion for programming that breaks new ground and speaks to audiences in new ways,” Norman said.

Hunter most recently served as senior VP of alternative and digital programming at the Peacock, where she worked on Jerry Seinfeld’s upcoming “The Marriage Ref,” as well as this summer’s “Great American Road Trip” and the adaptation of the BBC’s “Have I Got News for You.” During a previous stint at NBC, she also worked on the launches of “Fear Factor,” “Last Comic Standing” and “The Apprentice.”

Before that, she was VP of comedy development at 20th Century Fox TV.

Hunter also spent time at Bravo, helping relaunch the channel after NBC acquired it.

It’s that experience — helping launch a femme-centric channel with alternative fare — that likely led to the hiring at OWN.

Schwartz, who’s well known for her development strength in the scripted arena, was ultimately seen as the wrong fit for a channel that will focus on nonscripted fare.

Wass and Grasso, both of whom were recruited by Schwartz, are also from the scripted arena, which perhaps led to too much overlap of skills at the cabler. In Hunter, the net now has a programming exec with a background in both fields.

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