UPDATED: Jennifer Mullin will take one of the biggest jobs in international TV, as CEO of production and distribution giant FremantleMedia. Mullin has been CEO of FremantleMedia North America, the company’s largest unit, since May 2017.
She joined the North America operation in 2005 as senior vice president of current programming, rising to executive vice president of current programming in 2012 and co-CEO, alongside Craig Cegielski, in 2015.
Mullin, who will be FremantleMedia’s first American CEO, will move to London and start her new job Sept. 1. She replaces Cecile Frot-Coutaz, who is leaving the company after more than two decades to head YouTube’s EMEA business, as first reported by Variety in March. Frot-Coutaz has been CEO of FremantleMedia since 2012 and, like Mullin, rose to the position after having served as head of FremantleMedia North America.
Bert Habets, CEO of Luxembourg-based RTL, which owns FremantleMedia, announced Mullin’s appointment Thursday morning. “A strong and hugely respected leader, Jennifer has been a key force in FremantleMedia’s creative renewal across unscripted and scripted programming and has a matchless understanding of the global content industry,” Habets said. “I warmly welcome Jennifer in her new role and wish her every success, and I am very much looking forward to working with her to further drive the growth of our global content business.”
FremantleMedia is one of the biggest production and distribution groups outside of Hollywood. Having majored in unscripted, with formats such as “Idol,” “Got Talent,” and “X Factor,” it has moved heavily into scripted with drama series such as “American Gods,” “The Young Pope” and “Deutschland 83.”
Mullin’s experience at FremantleMedia North America has primarily been in the unscripted realm. She previously worked as an executive producer at Paramount, Telepictures and Universal. In a letter to staff, Mullin said one of her first priorities would be “to oversee a smooth transition at FMNA. The U.S. is our largest market and I will ensure that I place it in the strongest possible hands.”
She takes the reins at FremantleMedia as the wider content business continues to consolidate, including the possible sale to a major player of rival group Endemol Shine. FremantleMedia has itself been part of the consolidation story, backing or buying a raft of production companies, including Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It TV, Israeli formats outfit Abot Hameiri, Simon Andreae’s Naked Entertainment, Italy’s Wildside, and France’s Fontaram, among many others.
It also has a sizable distribution arm in FremantleMedia International.
Read Mullin’s letter to the staff following her appointment:
By now you will have seen the news from Bert Habets, CEO of RTL, that I have been appointed the new CEO of FremantleMedia. I want to say how honored and excited I am.
My thirteen years at Fremantle have been an important part of my career and my life. I have worked with many wonderful and talented colleagues across the business and I am proud to take on this new role.
I want to thank Cecile, who has been an extraordinary boss, colleague and friend. Under her leadership, we have built a strong and solid foundation on which I am confident we will further grow our global business.
We have an inspiring new company purpose, a bold new visual identity, and a terrific pipeline across unscripted and scripted. And with people at the heart of what we do, we are fortunate to have some of the best creative talent in the world in our family. We have many opportunities and much to be excited about.
One of my first priorities will be to oversee a smooth transition at FMNA. The U.S. is our largest market and I will ensure that I place it in the strongest possible hands.
While I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of you, there are some of you I don’t know. Over the coming months I will visit with as many of you as possible to hear your thoughts about this next stage of our journey.
My goal is to continue to build upon what is already an ambitious and dynamic company – a company which the best and most passionate creative talents want to call home. I am looking forward to working with you as we together write Fremantle’s next chapter.