“Charlie and Cris are world class creative entrepreneurs who have built their respective companies through the creation and production of great, must-watch content during their time within Endemol,” said Endemol Group prez Tim Hincks. “They combine energy, ambition and vision with an understanding of the values that define Endemol. We couldn’t ask for stronger candidates to lead our North American operations into a new phase of accelerated growth and creativity.”
Abrego and Corwin have been thriving members of the Endemol family, as their reality production companies — Abrego’s 51 Minds and Corwin’s Original Media — were both acquired by Endemol roughly six years ago. 51 Minds has been a trailblazer within the “celebreality” space, producing VH1 series including “The Surreal Life,” “Flavor of Love,” “I Love Money” and “TI and Tiny: The Family Hustle.” Corwin has produced the “Miami Ink” franchise for TLC, which includes spinoffs “LA Ink” and “NY Ink.” Discovery’s “Storm Chasers” and Bravo’s “The Rachel Zoe Project” also hail from Original Media.
“We’ve got to see this company for years from the inside, and I think that’s what made us well-suited to grow into this [CEO] role,” Corwin remarked.
The pair of CEOs noted to Variety that before Endemol acquired a majority stake in their shingles, their work in the reality TV space was primarily with one cable group: Viacom for Abrego, Discovery Communications for Corwin. Since joining up with Endemol, however, the producers have seen their programming span across almost all cable network groups, and into broadcast, as well, where Abrego set up “Whodunnit?” on ABC over the summer.
“I think one of the great things about being a part of this company for the last six years was meeting so many talented execs around the world, and getting a global perspective on TV,” Corwin told Variety. Abrego agreed, stating, “It really got [51 Minds] into formats that travel, goal setting, and moving into broadcast. Endemol played an integral part in that process.”
Now, as co-CEOs, the duo is tasked with expanding Endemol North America’s biz across cable and broadcast television, as well as into the digital video space. Endemol is responsible for tentpole broadcast formats including CBS’s “Big Brother.” 51 Minds and Original Media will remain under the Endemol USA umbrella and a part of Abrego and Corwin’s remit, along with fellow acquired reality shingles Authentic Entertainment (“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”) and True Entertainment (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”).
Pair will also oversee Endemol Studios, the company’s scripted arm that currently produces cable dramas including AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” and “Low Winter Sun,” and “Prisoners’ Wives,” which is in development at Lifetime. While Corwin and Abrego have defined themselves within the unscripted space, both have developed scripted shows, and Corwin has produced indie films including “Twelve,” “Half Nelson” and “August.”
“Endemol Studios is a big focus for us,” Corwin stated. “It’s a big area where we want to grow Endemol North America’s business. We see a lot of opportunity in it.”
Abrego added, “I feel excited about pushing my creativity in that area.”
Both told Variety that their time spent running indie unscripted shingles brought lessons that they will carry with them to the chief position at Endemol North America. For Corwin, it is “that quality content rises to the top, which will be true across any of the platforms — broadcast, cable, digital.” For Abrego, it is the constant evolution of television: “We’re in the best position as content creators to go beyond TV. I’ve learned to embrace creativity in all of its forms, and I’m going to be bringing that to Endemol with a larger scale.”
With the co-CEO and co-chairman title arrives a heaping helping of responsibility, and Corwin and Abrego know that will mean less active involvement in producing as they run Endemol North America.
“We’re taking on a bigger broader job,” Abrego said. “But when it makes sense, we’re going to produce. At our core, we’re not going to stop having that creative DNA. That’s what makes Endemol so great: they embrace people who create content.”