Exec to replace Lorraine Heggessey
LONDON — FremantleMedia has given the job of running its important U.K. shingle Talkback Thames, co-producers of “The X Factor,” to Sara Geater.Geater, a lawyer by training, took over as the company’s interim CEO in June following the sudden exit of Lorraine Heggessey, who is believed to have been under pressure to improve the producer’s commercial performance. Geater, head of commercial affairs at Channel 4 before joining Talkback Thames as Chief operating officer in 2007, will also join FremantleMedia’s operating board. She has helped lead a recent strategic review at the shingle and spearhead a new growth strategy aimed at creating more hit shows that can gain traction in international markets and across different platforms, said FremantleMedia. Geater was instrumental in negotiating the new three-year deal with ITV and Syco, owned jointly by Simon Cowell and Sony, which secured “The X Factor” and “Britain’s Got Talent” on U.K. web ITV until the end of 2013, and expanding the entertainment department. FremantleMedia CEO Tony Cohen said: “Sara has a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience in television on both the production and commercial side of the business.” Despite another strong U.K. season of “The X Factor,” Talkback Thames was hit hard by ITV’s decision in March to cancel long-running police soap “The Bill” after 27 years, with around 20% of staff losing their jobs.