Exec duo to lead Granada America

Jackson, Davis to run ITV's U.S. prod'n arm

LONDON — ITV’s new U.S. production entity, Granada America, will be led by Paul Jackson, currently Granada’s director of entertainment and international production, and by Carlton America topper Stephen Davis.

Effective immediately, Jackson, who has been based in Los Angeles for the last six months, will become CEO of the new combo, while Davis takes over as prexy.

This is a triumph for Granada Prods.’ London-based director, Simon Shaps, who has spent several weeks negotiating with both executives.

The two will jointly manage the American entity, with Davis reporting to Jackson and Jackson to Shaps.

Jackson, one of Blighty’s most experienced entertainment producers, was reluctant to move to the States, but the opportunity of leading ITV’s latest assault on the U.S. proved too good an offer to turn down.

Davis, meanwhile, is one of a handful of senior Carlton execs to gain a key role in the newly merged ITV commercial network, which was effectively a Granada takeover. Steve Hewlitt, the Granada Intl. exec who was also in the running for an L.A. posting, will be leaving the company.

“This is a great team to run our operations in the U.S.,” Shaps said. “Both Paul and Stephen have enormous energy and are hugely respected in the industry and will take the business from strength to strength.”

“This new entity offers a fabulous opportunity to work with my friends from Carlton,” Jackson added. “Stephen is a long-time colleague and I am delighted with this new relationship.”

Said Davis: “I am very excited to be part of this new company and look forward to working across the whole portfolio of programming hand in hand with Paul. We have complementary skills and we’ll be able to move easily back and forth between scripted and non-scripted projects.”

It remains to be seen how successful the former rivals will be at working together and at merging two very different businesses.

Carlton, arguably the more successful of the two in building a business in the U.S., has concentrated on making made-for-TV movies for the American market, while Granada has adopted a more risky strategy of winning series commissions from American broadcasters.

To date, Granada has met with limited success, but the hope is that the new combo will be able to clinch a long-running hit on a network as well as build its present activities with cable and PBS stations.

Granada America plans to expand its reality and TV movie slate as well as develop other drama and entertainment shows.

(Elizabeth Guider in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

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