Netflix’s Head Of Global TV Bela Bajaria Restructures U.S. Programming Departments, Resulting In Handful Of Layoffs; Sets Top International Team

A month and a half after being elevated to Head of Global TV at Netflix, Bela Bajaria has reorganized the streamer’s U.S. TV operation with an increased focus on tentpole shows and getting the most from mega overall deals. The realignment also enhances the portfolios of some executives on her international bench.

The U.S. streamlining includes the closing of the Young Adult/Family series department whose duties will be absorbed by the Drama and Comedy teams. The consolidation has led to the departures of fewer than 10 members of the series content team below VP level. Brian Wright, who ran the YA/family group, will now head a new Overall Deals department, while Jinny Howe and Renate Radford will lead the drama team. Meanwhile, Peter Friedlander, who led the Genre & Thrillers subsection of the drama department, will now head a new Spectacle/Event programming department that will be separate from drama and comedy.

Bajaria, whose expanded portfolio unites Netflix’s English and non-English language content, will have direct reports by region, U.S., EMEA, APAC and LATAM.

The head of U.S. series post is still vacant following the September departure of Cindy Holland, VP Original Content who had a slightly bigger role, overseeing all English-language programming. Since then, Channing Dungey, VP, Original series and head of drama, left to become chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group. Nina Wolarsky, VP-Drama, who oversaw Netflix’s non-genre drama series team under Dungey, also is departing. Additionally, Jane Wiseman, VP, Original Series and head of comedy, exited earlier this month.

Until the new Head of U.S. Series is in place, that person’s direct reports will report to Bajaria. These include:

Jinny Howe —  a member of the drama team who looked after character dramas, soaps, and Shondaland — has been promoted to head of drama, development, while former NBC comedy executive Renate Radford — from the young adult and family team  — will become head of drama, current. They will lead series across crime, thriller, YA, relationship, and character-driven genres.

Search is still under way for a new head of comedy, with Andy Weil serving as interim lead. For now, there are no plans to split the comedy department into development and current.

Brian Wright, VP of original series, who will take on the role of head of overall deals, original series, will lead a new team that will service overall deals including those with The Politician creator Ryan Murphy and Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers.Matthew Thunell, who worked under Wright, will be moving with him to the new department. 

As head of spectacle and event television, Peter Friedlander, VP Original Series, will be tasked with unearthing ambitious, high-concept, spectacle-driven drama after previously looking after shows including dystopian anthology series Black Mirror and Pablo Escobar drama Narcos.

Brandon Riegg continues as head of non-fiction series and comedy specials.

Beyond U.S.,  Bajaria will have a big focus on growing Netflix’s roster of international originals after the streaming giant has seen huge demand for local stories during the coronavirus pandemic. Netflix is looking for their next La Casa De Papel (aka Money Heist) whose Season 4 was watched by 65M users earlier this year.

Larry Tanz, VP of EMEA originals, will become head of EMEA local language original series, reporting to Bajaria. With Tanz being upped, the existing head of EMEA local language original series, Kelly Luegenbiehl, has been elevated to head of global franchises. In her new role, she will grow existing shows into bigger universes. Luegenbiehl has been doing just this with The Witcher, which is expanding to include the limited prequel series Blood Origin.

Former Sky executive Anne Mensah remains head of series in the UK, where shows including The Crown and Sex Education are made by local producers. Netflix spends $500M in Britain, meaning it has the second-biggest production budget after America. She will continue to report to Bajaria.

Minyoung Kim, the current head of Korea, adds Southeast Asia and AZ/NZ to her responsibilities. Continuing to report to Bajaria are John Derderian, VP of Japan/Hong Kong/Taiwan and anime content, and Monika Shergill, Netflix’s VP in India. Francisco Ramos remains VP of Latin American original series and film.

“One of the great things that Netflix has done is unlock access for those who want to watch a series in a language other than their own, and we’re seeing a lot of interest and viewing for local language series like Barbarians from Germany and Dark Desire from Mexico,” Bajaria said. “One of the first things I did when I came into my role overseeing non-English language content in the last year was banish the word ‘international’ – because I wanted to erase this idea that there is US content and ‘international’ content. All content is local for our members, and sometimes they want to watch in a language other than their own, which Netflix makes incredibly easy and satisfying. We have strong, robust slates launching next year in many languages and in many countries for our members to enjoy.”

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