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Exec makes Eye contact

Maynard makes deal to return to CBS

After a detour to NBC, Ghen Maynard is returning to his CBS roots.

Maynard — the reality guru who developed staples of the genre such as “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” — has been tapped exec VP for alternative programming and new-media entertainment content at the CBS Paramount Network TV Group.

His portfolio, greatly enhanced since his last stint at the net, will include everything from reality shows at CBS and the nascent CW network to development of original programming for online and wireless platforms. Maynard begins his new gig June 5.

“He’s grounded as a creative executive, and he understands the importance of story and an emotional viewpoint,” Eye honcho Nancy Tellem said, calling Maynard “an innovative thinker … (whose) objective is to stay way ahead of the curve.”

Maynard ankled CBS two years ago to head up development at NBC under entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly. Usually such a move to what at the time was the Eye’s chief rival would render Maynard dead in the eyes of CBS supremo Leslie Moonves.

But Moonves and Maynard parted on relatively good terms, with Moonves understanding Maynard’s desire to expand into scripted programming.

“Les was very accommodating to the fact that I was looking for newer challenges, and at the time, they didn’t have any available,” Maynard said, adding that he was happy to be back — “and lucky.”

Moonves remained a mentor of sorts to Maynard, even during his stint at NBC. “I could hear Leslie’s voice in the back of my head when thinking about how things should play out,” he said.

Maynard was forced out of NBC earlier this year as part of a programming putsch overhauling the Peacock’s West Coast operations. Conversations with CBS and other outlets began not long afterward.

With entertainment content for new-media platforms as one of his responsibilities, Maynard will have a broad playing field in which to experiment. He’s widely credited as one of the earliest and most passionate advocates of “Survivor,” which launched the modern reality revolution in 2000.

Maynard sees similar possibilities for the Internet and wireless worlds.

“The field is just wide open,” he said. “There are so many things we can do using the network to bring audience to the Internet and vice versa.”

There haven’t been many big breakout reality hits in the last year or so, which Maynard sees as something of a challenge.

“We just need to think big and try different stuff,” he said.

Maynard’s last CBS run began in the late 1990s, when he was director of drama series development. In 2000 he was named to the newly created post of VP for alternative programming.

At the Eye, he helped develop “Survivor,” “Big Brother,” “The Amazing Race” and UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model.” All four shows are among the longest-running unscripted skeins on network TV.

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