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Bad Robot Taps BBC Executive to Oversee Television

J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot has tapped BBC exec Ben Stephenson to oversee its television operations.

Stephenson has headed drama development for BBC since 2009. He’s been responsible for such series and miniseries as “Sherlock,” “The Missing,” “Luther,” “The Honorable Woman,” “Call the Midwife” and “Top of the Lake” — all of which have been successfully exported to the U.S.

“His love of great TV, his passion and respect for writers, and his remarkable taste are all in evidence through his groundbreaking work at the BBC. We can’t wait to work with Ben to tell engaging and impactful stories,” Abrams said.

Kathy Lingg, who has spearheaded TV for Bad Robot for the past eight years, is segueing to a producer role at the company. Athena Wickham, another Bad Robot TV exec, is leaving the company to head the Kilter Films production banner of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the writer-producers behind Bad Robot’s CBS drama “Person of Interest” and HBO’s upcoming “Westworld.”

Wickham began working with Abrams 10 years ago as his assistant. Since then Wickham “has become one of the smartest, hard-working, and impressive executives I’ve ever known,” Abrams said. “I respect and adore Athena more than I can express, and am so glad we get to keep collaborating as she transitions.”

Abrams also hailed Lingg’s “kindness and generosity” and leadership. She’ll continue to oversee several series for the company including the Hulu drama “11/22/63” and Showtime’s “Roadies,” which is awaiting word on a series pickup.

Stephenson’s appointment comes as Bad Robot is in the midst of negotiations for a new overall television deal with Warner Bros. TV Group. The company is expected to stay put on the Burbank lot. Earlier this year Bad Robot extended its feature deal with Paramount.

“J.J. Abrams is without doubt one of the world’s greatest writers, directors and producers, and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining him at Bad Robot,” said Stephenson. “Bad Robot already has an extraordinary reputation for great TV, and I’m hugely looking forward to working with some of the world’s best writers to help take the company into its next phase.”

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