Top drama and comedy executive Joe Lewis has departed Amazon Studios, Variety has confirmed. Sharon Tal Yguado has been promoted to take over all scripted programming, reporting to Albert Cheng, COO and acting president of the tech giant’s entertainment division.
Lewis had been the top scripted programming executive under Roy Price, who last week resigned from his post as president of Amazon Studios after being suspended for the company amid a sexual harassment allegations.
Lewis is in talks with Amazon for a production deal. As the company’s top comedy executive, he was responsible for developing Amazon’s two biggest hits — Golden Globe winners “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle.” Based on that success, he saw his portfolio expand last year to encompass drama development as well.
But Lewis was on increasingly thin ice in the wake of Price’s departure. As Variety reported last week, Lewis was the subject of an internal investigation earlier this year into his behavior toward women, conducted by the same outside firm hired to look into harassment claims against Price.
According to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month, Lewis was believed to have pressured producers of “The Tick” into casting his girlfriend, actress Yara Martinez. In addition, he worked with Price on a controversial project “Shanghai Snow,” which was decried by writers hired to work on it as grossly misogynistic.
The harassment allegations against Price and the increased pressure media companies are facing following the torrent of assault allegations against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein made Lewis’ long-term prospects at Amazon appear uncertain. But questions had surfaced regarding his role at the company even prior to Price’s exit. Under orders from Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, Amazon Studios has for months been reorienting itself from the niche, naturalistic hour- and half-hour-long programs championed by Lewis and Price and toward grander-scale genre programming designed to appeal to potentially broad international audiences. As part of that shift, Tal Yguado, a former Fox international executive, was recruited to Amazon earlier this year to head event series. Her unit has become the source of much of the development taking place at Amazon, as resources for development and programming through Lewis’ unit dried up — as indicated this summer when Amazon canceled original dramas “Z: The Beginning of Everything” and “The Last Tycoon.”
Tal Yguado has also been active in locking up key talent for the streaming service, signing “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman to a high-profile overall deal. At Fox, Tal Yguado helped finance and license “The Walking Dead” for the more than 200 Fox-branded international channels.