The Sanders appointment comes a year and a half after NBC disbanded its current programming unit, opting to merge its NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios programming teams.
The current programming job has been vacant ever since. Sanders will now oversee all current scripted series for the network and studio, and report to NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios primetime prexy Angela Bromstad.
Sanders moves over from NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios’ drama team, where he had served as senior VP since returning to the company in June 2009. He developed the new skeins “Undercovers” and “Love Bites,” as well as returning sophomore entry “Parenthood.”
Sanders also spent several years as part of Universal’s comedy department.
“Vernon is an incredibly talented programming executive in both comedy and drama, who has easily earned the respect of talent, writers and his colleagues,” said Bromstad. “He has great relationships, good commercial instincts and we know that in this new and well-deserved position, he will further expand our commitment to broadcasting quality series on a consistent basis. There is no one more invested in the success of our new and existing shows than Vernon, who has played a key role in the development of so many of them.”
Often considered the unsung heroes in network programming, current program departments are often the first to go in restructuring – but eventually webheads opt to bring back the execs that oversee the ongoing health and production of series already on the air.
Meanwhile, the timing of the Sanders announcement is a bit interesting: It comes just a day after he made waves at the House Judiciary Committee’s NBC/Comcast merger hearings in Los Angeles.
As recounted by Variety’s Ted Johnson here and the L.A. Times’ Joe Flint here, Sanders backed up NBC diversity chief Paula Madison, who was asked about NBC’s outreach to minorities. When Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) asked Sanders what the network’s new comedy “Friends With Benefits” was about, Sanders responded, “It’s about what it sounds like” — “leading to many guffaws in the room,” Flint wrote.