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BuzzFeed Reshuffles Entertainment Group, Ze Frank Shifted to R&D Role

Ze Frank is no longer running BuzzFeed’s entertainment division, and the digital-media company has reorganized the group with a more distributed structure.

Frank, a four-year BuzzFeed veteran, has been appointed to the newly created role of chief research and development officer. He will head up a small R&D team focused on “creating production models for new formats, platforms, and audience experiences,” CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in a staff memo announcing the changes Wednesday.

With Frank exiting as head of BuzzFeed Entertainment, the company is creating BuzzFeed Entertainment and Native Advertising, a new group headed by executive creative producer Summer Burton combining the core entertainment business with the branded-creative groups.

BuzzFeed Studios, which produces original short- and long-form video content, will continue to be run by Matthew Henick. For now Henick will report to Peretti until the company hires a new COO for BuzzFeed Studios “to sync our business functions,” according to Peretti’s memo.

In addition, the recently created BuzzFeed Media Brands group — encompassing Tasty, Nifty, Bring Me, Goodful and other lifestyle brands — will be led by editorial director of life/lifestyle Peggy Wang until BuzzFeed hires an exec to run the group. For now, Tasty GM Ashley McCollum will continue to report to Peretti.

A BuzzFeed rep said there are no layoffs or executive departures associated with the latest reorg. In November, the company laid off about 100 employees in a move to refocus its content-development efforts.

Frank, a web-video pioneer who created the early direct-to-camera series “The Show,” joined BuzzFeed as EVP of video in 2012. He led the creation of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures two years later. Then in 2016, the company created BuzzFeed Entertainment, headed by Frank, to delineate that from its news organization.

According to Peretti, Frank will collaborate with editorial teams across BuzzFeed on new R&D initiatives, as well as external advertising partners. His group at launch will include Andrea Mazey, Caitlin Cowie, Ella Mielniczenko, and Zee Myers and her team.

In the newly created BuzzFeed Entertainment and Native Advertising group, editorial director Tommy Wesely and BuzzFeed Video executive producer Andrew Gauthier now will report to Burton.

Other management-structure changes: Michelle Kempner, who has been VP of operations for the entertainment group, will report to BuzzFeed publisher Dao Nguyen and continue to oversee publishing, video stats, production, post-production, video research, and quality control. Rich Reid, executive creative director, will continue to run international creative and now reports to Scott Lamb, VP of international.

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