Bert Salke has been tapped as president of the Fox 21 Television Studios, a newly formed unit that combines the Fox 21 and Fox Television Studios banners.
The restructuring fills the void left at Fox TV Studios in August when Fox TV Studios prexy David Madden was tapped to oversee programming for Fox Broadcasting Co. Salke has headed the Fox 21 banner since 2010 and has steered its growth with such notable series as “Homeland” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
Salke was seen as a front-runner for the job at Fox TV Studios, and it’s a logical step to combine it with Fox 21. Both units are focused on producing for cable and digital outlets. Fox 21 was created as the lower-cost production arm of 20th Century Fox TV in the era when Fox Television Studios was a separate entity that did not report into then-20th TV toppers Walden and Newman.
At present, FTVS has 49 staffers; Fox 21 has 19. The combination of the two is not expected to yield any pinkslips in part because Fox 21 had relied on 20th TV for administrative and back-office support, so there aren’t many redundancies.
Mark Pearson, 20th TV’s exec VP of brand management and digital strategy, will work with Salke on the integration of Fox 21 and FTVS and in developing a long-term business plan for the enlarged entity. Walden said Salke and Pearson will take their time in figuring out the optimal structure for a company focused on capitalizing on the exploding demand for content from cable and digital buyers.
“Bert is a great executive. He is passionate about his shows and his talent and he has nurtured a fantastic team at Fox 21,” Walden told Variety. “We know he’s the right person to bring these companies together in a more powerful way. The opportunities out there are undeniable.”
The reshuffling of management at Fox Broadcasting and the studio arms was triggered in July when Walden and Newman were promoted to the TV Group chairman posts and added oversight of the Fox network. The leadership question at FTVS was the last major piece to fill.
The newly combined company will be based not on the Fox lot but in office space on Santa Monica Boulevard in West L.A. that had been home to Fox TV Studios. Fox 21 had been housed on the studio lot.
“Our task is to merge the two companies into a cohesive new entity that will maximize the best of what each individual studio offered before,” Salke said. “In the coming weeks, I look forward to getting to know my new colleagues and rolling up my sleeves, with Mark’s help, to devise the best structure and business plan — and to help make the new studio the ‘go-to’ supplier of the most undeniable programming possible.”
Fox 21 Television Studios boasts an impressive roster of dramas and comedies that rivals the slate at 20th TV, the broadcast network-focused unit. It’s home to FX’s “The Americans” and “Tyrant,” USA’s “Graceland,” “White Collar,” “Sirens” and “Complications,” TNT’s “Legends” and WGN America’s “Salem.” It has two high-profile comedies coming next year on FX with Billy Crystal’s “The Comedians” and Denis Leary’s “Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll.”