Former Lifetime, NBC exec to spearhead production operation

JoAnn Alfano had numerous options after she exited her post as head of programming for Lifetime in March.

She took a lot of meetings but nothing quite clicked until Brillstein Entertainment Partners made an overture. In a matter of days, she’d cut a deal to join the company as prexy of television.

“JoAnn has impressed all of us with her experience and drive,” Brillstein Entertainment CEO Jon Liebman said Wednesday in announcing her appointment.

Alfano, who starts on Monday, will spearhead development and production for the TV wing of Brillstein Entertainment. She joins the company a few weeks after Brillstein inked a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios, where it’s been based since 2005. She succeeds Peter Traugott as TV topper for Brillstein.

Alfano had no hesitation once she got the call from Brillstein because she’d worked with so many execs and managers there during her career, which began with a long stint in PR and programming at NBC. She also spent four years as head of Broadway Video TV before joining Lifetime as exec veep overseeing programming, skedding and acquisitions.

Early on in her career at the Peacock, Alfano was impressed at how accessible Brillstein’s late founder, Bernie Brillstein, made himself, even to a young exec, at a time when the Brillstein banner repped a slew of top NBC stars. Over the years she’s admired how Bernie Brillstein’s legacy continued to permeate the company.

“They have great integrity and a good work ethic. They’re very loyal and they obviously have great talent,” Alfano told Variety. “My first and foremost love is making television shows. This is such a great opportunity for me to focus on quality programs and supported by a tremendous infrastructure.”

Alfano also has experience working with ABC Studios from her days at Lifetime since the Alphabet’s production wing was a key supplier to the cabler.

As Liebman and his team began a search for a successor to Traugott, Alfano’s name came up, but they’d heard she was about to make a deal with another company — a rumor that turned out to be greatly exaggerated. From her first meeting with Liebman and Brillstein Entertainment partner Marc Gurvitz, she felt an immediate “simpatico,” she said.

In addition to Alfano, Brillstein is likely to hire another creative exec for the TV wing.

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