×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New Regime at Sony Pictures TV Focuses on Unity, Global Growth Prospects

The leaders of hollywood’s largest TV studios have their hands full keeping track of the ever-expanding number of U.S. outlets in the market for original series. At Sony Pictures Television, the new regime has set an ambitious goal to expand the studio’s reach by fielding original shows to buyers well beyond U.S. borders.

Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, SPT’s presidents of programming and production, were promoted to worldwide production chiefs in June following the exit of longtime Sony TV chairman Steve Mosko. The post-Mosko restructuring promises to break down some of the walls that existed previously between Sony’s various TV departments as well as the Japanese conglom’s film, music, and PlayStation units.

“We are legitimately one company now,” Van Amburg says. The TV division is working more closely with Sony film chief Tom Rothman, sharing writers and ideas for properties that can travel between the big and small screens.

The TV group is also teaming up with PlayStation on VR initiatives, engaging some of its A-list showrunners in producing cutting-edge content for the immersive medium. Ties to the Sony Music empire will also improve, Van Amburg and Erlicht promise, as division heads brainstorm on collaborative projects involving Sony artists, including Adele. First up is RCA Records’ release of the soundtrack of SPT’s Netflix drama “The Get Down,” which chronicles the rise of hip-hop culture out of the Bronx in the late 1970s.

The shift in mindset reflects the warming of what had been chilly relations at times between Mosko and his boss, Sony Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton. Van Amburg and Erlicht aim to make SPT less of a fiefdom on the Culver City lot.

Within the TV group, the pair’s ascent from their previous roles as heads of U.S. production means that Sony TV will speak with one voice around the world when it comes to selling original programming. (SPT’s vast international networks unit remains a separate entity headed by Andy Kaplan, who also runs Sony’s Crackle streaming service.)

Even before the Mosko shuffle, Erlicht and Van Amburg’s division had gained traction in setting up series outside the U.S., notably with the U.K.’s ITV (“Houdini & Doyle”) and Channel 4 (“Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick”). But those moves were not made in concert with the London-based international TV production group headed by Andrea Wong. Now that Wong reports to Erlicht and Van Amburg, there will be efforts at greater coordination.

“We’re trying to be more effective and more efficient in the way we produce global television,” Erlicht says. “We’re looking to take some of our great American talent overseas, and bring some of the great international production assets we have back over. We want to do all of that in a more seamless manner than we’ve done it in the past.”

Although there is no shortage of domestic TV buyers, the U.K. and Europe offer new opportunities and financing models. As an independent studio in the U.S., Sony TV faces pressure from the largest networks to fork over ownership stakes as part of the price of getting shows on the air. This is not the case in foreign markets, allowing the company an alternative platform to mount productions that can be exported back to the U.S. In recent weeks the pair have had conversations about “Outlander” showrunner Ron Moore heading a project for Chinese TV, and Shawn Ryan supervising a drama for France’s Canal Plus.

SPT’s roster of scripted and unscripted series has ballooned in the 11 years since Van Amburg and Erlicht were appointed to their previous positions. Van Amburg came to the studio as a development exec in 1997; Erlicht joined in 2002.

While the pair has big ambitions and big goals for adjusting the culture at SPT, they hope to never lose the spirit of being the scrappy independent that Mosko helped to establish.

“We’ll never have the volume of some of our competitors,” Erlicht says. “We’re always going to be that boutique studio in terms of our mentality.”

(Pictured: Zack Van Amburg, Jamie Erlicht)

More TV

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details

    'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details Reportedly Leak Online

    Who will survive the finale of “Game of Thrones”? Some savvy watchers of the HBO series might have a clue heading into Sunday night’s episode after a detailed description of the final installment reportedly leaked online. [Note: This post does not contain any “Game of Thrones” spoilers.] A spokesperson said HBO had no comment. While [...]

  • ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired

    ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired by Showtime for U.S.

    Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Group’s film and television division, along with Capitol Music Group, Motown Records and Fulwell 73 announced today that “Hitville: The Making of Motown” has been acquired by Showtime for release in North America with plans for a fall premiere, and Altitude for theatrical release in the UK and Ireland. The feature-length [...]

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • 'Fleabag' Season 2 Review: How Its

    'Fleabag': Season 2’s Top 10 Breaks From Reality, Ranked (Column)

    The searing first season of “Fleabag” felt like a complete story in and of itself. As adapted from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show, the series expanded on the world of a woman wild with lust and grief with such expert ease that by the time it ended, even Waller-Bridge herself was sure that it was the [...]

  • Richard Madden Says 'Game of Thrones'

    Richard Madden Says the 'Game of Thrones' Cast Deserves a Medal

    Richard Madden is thankful for his time on “Game of Thrones,” but is also happy to have been able to move on when he did. The “Bodyguard” star sat down with “Sharper Objects'” Amy Adams for Variety’s Actors on Actors, where he expressed some incredulity at the idea of spending so long with just one [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content