Fox exec Craig Erwich continues his climb at the network, where he’s been upped to executive VP of programming.

That puts Erwich firmly in command of Fox’s comedy and drama series, under entertainment prexy Gail Berman. The exec VP of programming job has been empty since David Nevins ankled the web last year to take over as Imagine TV’s president.

“Craig has grown tremendously as an executive in the past couple of years,” Berman said. “We’ve been talking with him for a while about what opportunities might be available for him at the company. The timing was right, and we felt Craig was ready.”

Erwich has been a rising star at Fox since joining in 1995 as director of current programming. Berman moved him to the development side soon after she joined the network in 2000; he’s most recently led the drama development department.

At the network, Erwich helped develop hit skeins such as “24,” as well as upcoming dramas “The O.C.” and “Skin.” His Fox experience also includes working on shows such as “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place.”

“That (experience) makes him uniquely qualified to take a greater leadership role and assume the position overseeing both our development and current programming,” Berman said.

Erwich won’t handle alternative series; that department’s topper, Mike Darnell, continues to report to Berman.

Other openings

Erwich’s promotion as Berman’s lieutenant comes a week after comedy development chief Tracy Katsky opted to leave the network (Daily Variety, June 17). That means both the top drama and comedy development jobs are currently vacant; network expects to announce replacements in the coming weeks.

Those execs — along with current programming chief Marcy Ross — will report directly to Erwich.

Erwich, a Northwestern U. grad, joined Fox from Stephen J. Cannell Prods., where he helped develop the critically acclaimed Fox drama “Profit.” The exec started his career as an assistant at CAA.