Sony taps Holly Jacobs for reality

Former Fox TV exec to top syndication unit

Sony Pictures Television has tapped former Fox TV Studios exec Holly Jacobs to head up reality and syndication for the studio.

Jacobs, who’s expected to begin work Monday, will replace longtime Sony exec Melanie Chilek, who has been involved in the studio’s nonscripted production since 1994. Chilek is still a Sony staffer, though she’s expected to officially leave the company.

SPT programming and production co-prexies Jamie Erlicht and Zack van Amburg are bringing in Jacobs as part of an attempt to streamline the studio’s reality and syndie development process under the direction of one team. Sony has had different teams for syndie and network nonscripted development, but under Jacobs, staffers will develop for both genres.

“The fact that Sony will now have reality and syndication streamlined as one broad unit was very appealing to me,” Jacobs told Daily Variety. “Those are two areas for which I have a lot of passion, and there’s a lot of upside as to what we can develop.”

While Sony has a powerful bench of syndie skeins — it produces “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” and has several successful courtshows — the studio has struggled to launch hits in recent years. And despite a number of drama and comedy players, it’s taken few shots in primetime network reality, which is likely to change with the hiring of Jacobs.

Exec said she’s particularly keen on reconnecting with producer Michael Davies, whose company has a deal with Sony. Jacobs and Davies worked together at Buena Vista Television.

After nearly three years at Fox TV Studios, Jacobs left in May as part of a management restructuring that saw several major execs at the company exit. During her tenure at the News Corp. unit, Jacobs helped develop skeins such as E! hit “The Girls Next Door,” the CW’s “Crowned” and Fox’s “Talkshow With Spike Feresten.”

Jacobs had previously spent 3½ years at Disney’s Buena Vista Television, where she developed and launched “The Wayne Brady Show” and ABC cult hit “The Family.” She also helped launch the syndie version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Exec previously worked at ABC Daytime as a VP of reality, building “The View” into a success.