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NBC Universal Vet Jeff Gaspin Named President at Primary Wave Entertainment

Jeff Gaspin, a former veteran NBC Universal exec who served as chairman of the conglomerate’s TV properties, has been named president of Primary Wave Entertainment.

In the newly created position, Gaspin will drive a new push by the company — an independent studio, management, music, production and entertainment media company — to boost its slate of original content for both television and digital programming. The television vet will also serve as a member of Primary Wave’s management board.

He will oversee current scripted and unscripted TV projects across all genres, develop and produce programming, and lead distribution opportunities for content across broadcast, mobile and emerging technologies.

“One of the things Primary Wave hasn’t done much of is unscripted, which is something I’ve done for 25 years,” Gaspin tells Variety. “We hope to build the size of unscripted at Primary Wave. And I look forward to doing more scripted with the great access to talent this company has.”

Gaspin started his career in entertainment at NBC in the ’80s and rose through the ranks, before leaving in 1996 to head programming at VH1, where he launched “Behind the Music” and “Pop-Up Video.” He returned to NBC in 2001 and developed hits such as “The Apprentice” and “The Biggest Loser” when he was head of alternative programming for the network.

When NBC acquired Bravo, he became president of the cabler and was responsible for “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Project Runway.” At The Peacock, he was behind “The Voice,” “Grimm” and was instrumental in shepherding “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” In his last years at NBC Universal, then-CEO Jeff Zucker installed him as head of all of the conglomerate’s TV properties; he left the company shortly after it was acquired by Comcast in 2010.

Among Primary Waves’ projects are Charlize Theron’s “The Coldest City” and HBO’s Kurt Cobain documentary film “Montage of Heck.” The company is currently in development on a scripted series from Swedish House Mafia DJ Steve Angello.

Primary Wave is also co-financing AT&T Audience Network’s “Loudermilk” from Peter Farrelly as a studio for the first time, and it likely won’t be the last, according to Gaspin. “The ultimate goal is to find projects and outlets of distribution that allow for a small independent company to actually finance, building long-term assets,” he says.

“Primary Wave is a talent-centered entertainment company where actors, artists, directors, writers and creative minds can do their best work. Jeff is a skilled, innovative leader who will make a powerful impact on our business,” said Primary Wave Entertainment founders and co-CEO’s, David Guillod and Lawrence Mestel. “As we continue to build momentum across our television and digital portfolios, it has become more important than ever to establish an effective operating structure for Primary Wave. We will continue to grow our executive ranks with key new hires as we pursue an ambitious expansion of our original content slate.”

With Gaspin’s appointment, Primary Wave has acquired his Gaspin Media, which was founded in 2012 and is behind ABC’s “To Tell The Truth,” USA Network’s “First Impressions With Dana Carvey,” A&E’s “Fit to Fat to Fit,” WEtv’s “Match Made In Heaven” and syndie talker “The Preachers.” Gaspin will continue to serve as executive producer on those five series.

Gaspin will still remain chairman of his previous venture, TAPP, an OTT subscription platform he launched in 2014 that connects niche personalities with their super fans. He also remains on the advisory boards of TowerBrook Capital Partners and Taboola.

Gaspin’s new position at Primary Wave Entertainment is effective immediately, and he will be based in the company’s Los Angeles offices.

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