Bonnie Hammer relies on team spirit

Cable queen credits colleagues with success

It’s not supposed to be this easy. Really.

Even for Bonnie Hammer, who was promoted at NBC Universal to head up the studio’s Universal Cable Prods. in addition to her title as topper of USA Network and Syfy.

Everything the two nets offered up this year turned to ratings gold. USA was the most-watched cabler with “Burn Notice” and “In Plain Sight” as its most stalwart performers, while new addition “Royal Pains” took off as well. On the Syfy side, “Battlestar Galactica” was named the Television Critics Assn. program of the year and newbie “Warehouse 13” was strong enough to garner a second season renewal.

“It’s that I have a really good team,” says Hammer, shying away from taking the lion’s share of the credit. “What happens is that you have good chemistry with the people you work with, you trust them and they trust you. It’s when you get in situations where you’re always looking around and watching your back where it’s not fun.”

Revenues generated by the two nets and Universal Cable Prods. has been a huge asset to NBC U, which has been weighed down by the Peacock’s anemic primetime programming. While NBC struggles to regain some prominence this fall, the cablers and UCP have earned $1 billion in operating profit.

Hammer’s relationship with corporate chief Jeff Zucker and newly upped Jeff Gaspin (chair, NBC U Television Entertainment) has been key to the cable’s side success.

“It’s all about the bottom line and whatever we’ve asked for, they’ve given us,” Hammer explains. “They know I’m not a spinner. They know that if they ask me something, I’ll be very honest with them. ”

Next up for Syfy is “Caprica,” the prequel to “Battlestar,” which already has a built-in fan base, and “White Collar” on USA. The latter involves an ex-con who helps the FBI catch bad guys.

Like brokerage firm boilerplate, Hammer isn’t relying on past results to predict future ones.

“There always has to be worry. It’s my Jewish nature.”


Job title: NBC U Cable Entertainment and U Cable Studios prexy

Role model: “My father. He taught me that ‘no’ will be the last word only if you let it be.”

Career mantra: “Embrace change. It’s the only constant in our business.”

Leisure pursuits: “Sitting on the beach with my Kindle and a glass of rose.”

Philanthropic passion: “Characters Unite, USA’s new initiative combating prejudice and intolerance while promoting understanding and respect.”