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JoAnn Alfano’s Role Expands To Oversee Current Programming, Formats Group In Latest Universal Studio Group Moves

Patrick Hipes
·4-min read

Universal Studio Group chair Pearlena Igbokwe on Tuesday revealed the latest tweaks to the structure of the group that comprises Universal Television, UCP and NBCUniversal International Studios, saying that the International Formats Group has joined the fold to be overseen by JoAnn Alfano, whose role has been expanded.

As part of the tweaks, Formats boss Enrique Guillen, EVP Commercial Strategy and International Development, will be reporting to Alfano, who will now oversee Current Programming for both Universal Television and UCP. She will now hold the title of EVP Scripted Current Series and Head of International Business Development, USG.

USG still is searching for a new international president following the recent exit of Jeff Wachtel.

Alfano, the veteran Lifetime and Brillstein exec, had been EVP Scripted Programming at NBCUniversal International Studios before returning to the domestic side in 2018 as EVP Current Series and New Business Development for Universal Television. In her new role, she will report to Igbokwe for Formats and International Business Development and to both Dawn Olmstead, the president of UCP, and the yet to be named president of Universal Television for Current Series.

The changes follow the exit earlier this month of Wachtel, the NBCU veteran who had been president of NBCUniversal International Studios. Also this month, USG took on the oversight of Universal Television Alternative Studios, the division responsible for shows including The Wall and World of Dance.

The Formats group, which had been overseen by Meredith Ahr before her exit this month, is currently managing international versions of projects including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Superstore, Suits, Top Chef, SNL, Songland, Hollywood Game Night and The Real Housewives franchise.

Here’s the memo to staff today from Igbokwe, who was promoted in September from Universal TV president to chairman of Universal Studio Group:

SUBJECT: USG ANNOUNCEMENT

Hi Everyone,

Please join me in welcoming the International Formats Group to our Universal Studio Group (USG) family!

Enrique Guillen, EVP, Commercial Strategy and International Development, will now be reporting to JoAnn Alfano. Under JoAnn’s direction, Enrique and his team will continue to focus on the international expansion and reach of USG’s formats and content pipeline. His responsibilities include setting the sales strategy for NBCU IP adaptations across the world and forming strategic partnerships to create new sources of global IP. Currently, the Formats Group is managing international versions of multiple projects including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Superstore,” “Suits,” “Safe Harbour,” “Top Chef,” “SNL,” “Songland,” “Hollywood Game Night” and “The Real Housewives” franchise.

I am also pleased to announce that in addition to adding the International Formats Group to her purview, JoAnn Alfano is expanding her responsibilities to oversee Current Programming for both Universal Television and UCP. Her new title will be EVP, Scripted Current Series and Head of International Business Development, USG. JoAnn will report to me for Formats and International Business Development and to both Dawn Olmstead, President of UCP and the yet to be named President of Universal Television for Current Series.

While each studio will continue to have dedicated executives, this new structure will allow us to allocate resources as needed to handle the volume of our ever-increasing slate of current series more efficiently. It will also help us to further meet our USG goals of fostering cross-studio collaboration, leveraging shared resources, integrating talent and creating consistent business practices.

Prior to joining UTV, JoAnn was EVP, Scripted Programming for NBC International Studio; President, Brillstein Television; and Head of Programming for Lifetime Television. She has also held stints as the head of Comedy and Drama Development for NBC.

JoAnn is well respected across the industry and we are lucky to have someone who brings such a wealth of experience to this newly created role.

While we do see the opportunity in unifying our current teams, I believe that our development teams are a vital part of leveraging the individual brand identities of our two domestic studios. Therefore, we will continue to lean into the expertise of Erin Underhill, EVP, Drama Development and Jim Donnelly, EVP, Comedy Development who will report into the new President of UTV and UCP’s Scott Nemes, EVP, Development who will continue reporting to Dawn.

I hope that you will take a moment today to welcome Enrique and the Formats Group to USG, and to congratulate JoAnn. I look forward to working with each of them to drive success both in the individual studio businesses and as part of a collaborative USG family.

As our tagline says, “Watch what we can do together.”

Pearlena

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