NBC’s New Chief Overhauls Top Ranks

From a New York Times story by Benjamin Mullin and Nicole Sperling headlined “NBC’s New Chief Overhauls Top Ranks”:

Mike Cavanagh is beginning to put his stamp on NBCUniversal.

Mr. Cavanagh, who took over the company in April, announced Thursday that he was giving Donna Langley, the company’s films chief, sweeping supervision over creative decisions for the company’s entertainment content, including films and TV shows for its Peacock streaming service. Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBCUniversal television and streaming, is also being elevated, given wider purview over the business decisions for some of the company’s creative content.

Other executives who will remain on Mr. Cavanagh’s leadership team include Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, who will gain oversight of Telemundo and NBC’s local stations, and Mark Woodbury, the company’s parks chief.

Mr. Cavanagh is essentially winnowing the number of executives who report directly to him, streamlining the company’s leadership ranks. He will also continue to work directly with Adam Miller, an executive vice president overseeing operations and technology as well as communications, human resources and corporate social responsibility; Kim Harris, the company’s general counsel; Anand Kini, NBCUniversal’s chief financial officer; and Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer.

The promotions were the first major step taken by Mr. Cavanagh since he took over leadership of the company. Its previous chief executive, Jeff Shell, stepped down after an investigation into sexual harassment.

In an internal memo, Mr. Cavanagh said the changes would allow NBCUniversal to better compete in a business environment rife with cord cutting — the abandonment of traditional pay-TV — and new rivals.

“I’m very excited to work with this team to build on our great momentum and drive NBCU forward,” he wrote.

Susan Rovner, the chairman of entertainment content for NBCUniversal television and streaming, is leaving the company as part of the reorganization, Mr. Cavanagh wrote. Frances Berwick will be elevated to chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment, reporting to Mr. Lazarus and Ms. Langley.

Since taking over for Mr. Shell, Mr. Cavanagh has visited the company’s offices in Los Angeles, New York and London and gotten to know stars like Jimmy Fallon, the “Tonight Show” host. He has mostly sought to continue on with business as usual, telling people he works with that things will remain unchanged while the company absorbs Mr. Shell’s departure.

Mr. Cavanagh has had to deal with unexpected turmoil in his short time in the role, including the surprise departure of the company’s ad sales chief, Linda Yaccarino, who left NBCUniversal to become the chief executive of Twitter. Ms. Yaccarino exited just as the company was preparing its annual pitch to advertisers, known as the upfronts, which accounts for a hefty chunk of its revenue for the year.

In promoting Ms. Langley, NBCUniversal is betting on a seasoned creative executive with a string of recent box office successes. Along with Chris Meledandri, the chief executive of the animation studio Illumination, Ms. Langley shepherded hits like “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which grossed more than $1 billion, and “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which came out last year and generated more than $900 million worldwide.

Mr. Lazarus, who oversees NBCUniversal’s TV networks and the company’s streaming business, has been at the company for more than a decade. During his years at the company, Mr. Lazarus has been responsible for striking deals with the Olympics, the National Football League and the Premier League, and he has been a driving force in the growth of “Sunday Night Football,” the company’s marquee N.F.L. program.

Benjamin Mullin is a media reporter for The Times, covering the major companies behind news and entertainment.

Nicole Sperling is a media and entertainment reporter, covering Hollywood and the burgeoning streaming business. She joined The Times in 2019. She previously worked for Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly and The Los Angeles Times.

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