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Sony Pictures Chief Taps Internal Trio to Lead TV Production Division

Sony Pictures chief Tony Vinciquerra has tapped a trio of insiders to lead its TV production division. Business affairs veteran Jeff Frost has been promoted to president of Sony Pictures TV Studios, while drama development chiefs Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter have been upped to co-presidents focusing on creative matters.

The trio will serve as an “office of the president” spearheading all production and development, per Sony. Frost reports to Vinciquerra, who took the reins of the studio in June. Parnell and Clodfelter report to Frost.

The new structure fills the void left last month by the departures of longtime Sony Pictures TV presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who segued to launch a TV production operation for Apple.

“Jeff, Chris and Jason are the perfect team to run our U.S. television business,” Vinciquerra said. “Over the last several weeks, I have been able to see first-hand the strong leadership qualities possessed by Jeff, Chris and Jason, the high energy and vitality of everyone in their groups and throughout SPT and the outstanding collaboration that exists between them all. I am confident they will not only grow our robust television business, but also strengthen the integration between SPT and SPE’s other lines of business and with the other Sony Group companies.”

Vinciquerra’s decision to elevate three studio insiders comes as something of a surprise given the high-profile role that TV plays at the studio. There were no shortage of industry insiders angling for the job but Vinciquerra’s intent was to promote from within. The titles for Frost, Parnell and Clodfelter include the “Sony Pictures Television Studios” moniker for the first time — an effort to distinguish the production/development unit from the separate international networks group headed by Andy Kaplan.

Parnell and Clodfelter are well liked by those in the creative community who have worked with them. The promotions are seen as a big vote of confidence from Vinciquerra.

“They’re really thoughtful. They love the creative process and they’re super-supportive of talent,” said Paul Haas, partner and co-head of TV at WME. “This is a real opportunity to prove themselves at a higher level.”

The new structure built around the trio also suggests that Sony Pictures aims to continue with the development strategy executed under Erlicht and Van Amburg. The studio has prospered in TV by focusing on a portfolio approach of balancing broadcast network swings (“The Blacklist,” “The Goldbergs,” CBS’ upcoming “SWAT”) with prestige cable and streaming series (including the Emmy-nommed “Better Call Saul” and “The Crown” and “Outlander”), syndication stalwarts (notably “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy”) and a range of international production efforts.

“The landscape of our business continues to rapidly evolve, and SPT is in an ideal position to take advantage of industry shifts due to our diversity of programming and ability to air across a broad array of broadcast, cable and digital platforms,” Frost said. “We have had great success over the past 10 years and I look forward to working with the team to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Frost joined Sony TV in 2008 from ABC Studios. Parnell came to the studio in 2003; Clodfelter signed on in 2006.

“We are proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last several years and are excited about building on that in this new role,” said Parnell and Clodfelter in a statement.

Frost, Parnell and Clodfelter were not immediately available for additional comment.

Frost most recently had been exec VP of U.S. business affairs. Parnell and Clodfelter had both been exec VP of U.S. drama development and production. The two have helped shepherd such Sony TV series as “Breaking Bad,” “The Blacklist,” “Outlander,” “Bloodline,” “Masters of Sex,” “Preacher,” “Justified,” “Sneaky Pete,” and “Damages.”

Before Sony, Clodfelter worked in development for John Wells Productions and Spelling Television.

(Pictured: Jeff Frost, Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter)

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