Veteran TV producer Deborah Oppenheimer has been named exec VP of NBC Universal Intl. TV Production.
Oppenheimer, who ran Bruce Helford’s Warner Bros.-based Mohawk Prods. shingle for 14 years, will open an L.A. office for the international production unit. She’ll report to London-based NBC U Intl. TV Prod. prexy Michael Edelstein.
Edelstein, who took over the division earlier this year, said he originally expected to keep a close eye on talent and agents in L.A. and New York. But his London duties and the time difference made that difficult.
“In building this business, much of my intention is to focus on the rest of the world,” he said.
At the same time, Edelstein said he heard rumblings that Oppenheimer was looking to get back into TV. During her stint at Mohawk, Oppenheimer oversaw series such as “The Drew Carey Show” and “George Lopez.”
“I was intrigued by this international production model,” Oppenheimer said. “I get to take my experience and the relationships I have and use them in a new and different way.”
Oppenheimer will keep an eye on finding U.S. writers and talent who might be looking to develop projects for the overseas market, while also helping NBC U Intl. bring foreign formats to the U.S.
Oppenheimer will serve as a liaison between the international arm and NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studio’s Angela Bromstad (who spent time in London in the job now held by Edelstein).
Edelstein said he’s particularly interested in bringing U.S. comedy showrunners to the U.K.
“There’s a desire by U.K. broadcasters to figure out the writers’ room,” he said. “Deborah has a background in that that I don’t have. And there are now so many instances now of comedy writers creating dramas. We’ll be looking to her ability to grab those comedy writers who are looking to write something more substantial than just setup-punchline.”
Oppenheimer will spend time getting to know English-language territories such as the U.K., Canada and Australia, where Edelstein is looking to make a big production push.
Besides her time at Mohawk, Oppenheimer also produced the documentary “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport,” which won the Academy Award for best doc in 2000.
She also spent time as vice president, pay and cable TV, at Lorimar — producing fare for HBO, Showtime and PBS — and was also VP of production at Lorimar.