EXCLUSIVE: The change at the helm of CBS’ entertainment operations continues. I hear that Thom Sherman is stepping down as Senior Executive Vice President, Programming, CBS Entertainment and getting an extended production deal with the company. The move follows news reported by Deadline earlier this morning that CBS veteran Kelly Kahl will step down as president of entertainment at the end of the year. I heard that the network’s current head, Amy Reisenbach, will be named the new president of entertainment.
“Team – I want you to be aware of an important transition happening today,” Cheeks said in his memo announcing Kahl’s impending exit this morning.
The departures of Kahl and Sherman and the promotion of Reisenbach are part of the same “leadership restructuring and streamlining” in the network’s entertainment division, I hear. Details are still hazy, but word is that CBS Entertainment’s top job, which in the past was held by one person including Nina Tassler and Glenn Geller, will once again be consolidated and held by Reisenbach, who is very appreciated in the creative community.
This is the biggest leadership change for Cheeks since he joined ViacomCBS nearly three years ago to oversee the CBS brands. It comes on a day of layoffs at CBS parent company Paramount Global, mostly in TV divisions, as congloms seek to cut costs. It also comes amid ongoing consolidation as broadcast ratings decline – there are no dedicated senior entertainment executives on the other two Big 3 networks, ABC and NBC, where the same executive oversees both the broadcast network and its sister streaming platform.
UPDATE 11:35 a.m.: Cheeks and Sherman sent internal memos (you can read them below) confirming that Sherman is stepping down from his executive position and that the company is “entering into an overall production agreement covering CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios, with Thom continuing to develop and produce programs for the Network and other parts of Paramount Global,” as Cheeks put it.
In his memo, Sherman called Kahl “the brother I never had, my friend, and the best working partner I could have imagined” and listed some of their administration’s greatest accomplishments.
2nd UPDATE 12:20: CBS also confirmed Reisenbach’s ascension to entertainment president. Reporting to Cheeks, she will oversee all of the network’s creative departments during prime time, daytime and late night, including comedy and drama development, alternative, specials, current programming, programming and the cast.
“I am so pleased that Amy is bringing her talent, expertise and collaborative spirit to this position and leading this much-vaunted division,” Cheeks said in an internal email (you can read it in full below. ) “She is loved and respected by writers, producers and colleagues and is a passionate champion of our ongoing efforts to diversify CBS on screen and behind the camera.
As executive vice president of current programs, Reisenbach led the combined department that oversees current programming for CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios. Additionally, she oversaw CBS Daytime.
Reisenbach was previously SVP, Current Programs, from September 2015 to June 2017, overseeing all studio-produced series for The CW, while continuing to work on several shows airing on CBS. She joined CBS Studios in 2005 as head of current programs, was promoted to director a year later and named vice president in 2011.
Before that, she worked at Warner Bros. Television in the Drama and Current Development departments.
“I want to thank George, Kelly Kahl, David Stapf and Thom Sherman for being amazing bosses and colleagues and for supporting my growth path to this point,” Reisenbach said. “I am thrilled and proud to continue our tradition of excellence that everyone in this network strives to exceed every day.
Sherman joined CBS in 2017 from The CW. Since then, he has overseen the development of successful additions to the network’s program such as FBI and fallout FBI: Most Wanted and FBI: international, The Equalizer, NCIS: Hawaiiand new escape land of fire on the dramatic side like comedies The neighborhood, Bob ♥ Abishola and Ghosts. CBS has remained the most-watched broadcast network for the past 14 years, and the network leads the pack again this fall with 17 of the 25 most-watched entertainment programs of the season so far.
Sherman joined CBS from The CW where, as Executive Vice President and Chief Programming Officer, he developed and oversaw series such as Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, the flash and Joan the Virgin.
From 2004 to 2006, Sherman served as president of JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, where he helped oversee the first two seasons of Lost and the last two seasons of A.k.a.
From 1996 to 2004, Sherman worked in drama series development at ABC, the last five years as a department head. At ABC, he was responsible for the development and/or supervision of series such as Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Alias, NYPD Blue, The Practice and Once again.
Here is Cheeks’ note on Sherman:
Team – As I wrote to you earlier, we are restructuring and streamlining the management team at CBS Entertainment. As part of this, our colleague Thom Sherman will step down from his role as Senior Executive Vice President, Programming by the end of this year. Below, please see the note Thom sent to his team earlier today.
At the same time, I’m happy to share that Thom will remain connected to CBS. We enter into a global production agreement spanning CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios, with Thom continuing to develop and produce programming for the network and other parts of Paramount Global. Thom’s creative instincts about the kinds of shows CBS viewers love are clear to all of us. I’m glad we’re continuing to leverage those instincts and his programming skills as both a producer and an advisor.
Thom has been a highly respected creative executive at CBS, The CW and as president of JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot. His connections, skills and experience provide great value as a producer in this new capacity.
Please join me in thanking Thom for all his contributions to the Network and wishing him well in his new role at CAS.
Email from Sherman:
The news this morning was shocking, and I know you are all as saddened by it as I am. Kelly is the brother I never had, my friend and the best work partner I could have imagined. I am beyond grateful for his resolute leadership, guidance, collaboration, and humor, and it’s hard to imagine he and I won’t be doing this together again.
And, alas, I too will move on to a new stage in my career next year.
I have had the great privilege of working with all of you for the past 5 1/2 years. You are a remarkable group of extremely talented people, the best in the business at what you do, and I am extremely honored to have stood by your side as, season after season, together we programmed America’s #1 Network .
Look at some of the many things we’ve accomplished:
–We’ve put together a list of shows that is the envy of the company with the #1 New Drama on Broadcast 5 years in a row, and this year’s Top 3 New Shows. We also launched new #1 comedy 4 consecutive seasons, and now last year’s #1 hit, “Ghosts”, is battling with one of our other big hits, “Young Sheldon”, for the #1 comedy slot OVERALL Broadcast. Powerful.
–CBS is now recognized for its diversity in front of and behind the camera; an incredible turnaround that we should all be very proud of.
–We’ve worked hard to change the culture within CBS to be more inclusive, welcoming, warm, fun, and (relatively!) stress-free. Considerable progress made.
But more importantly than the above successes we’ve shared, your talents are only matched by your kindness. I am blessed to have worked with all of you, truly great, exceptionally kind and caring people. Thank you all for helping to create an inspiring and nurturing environment and for the dedication and brilliance with which you all do your job. I will carry you all in my heart as we continue our travels, and I look forward to continuing our friendships.
Now go throw a Thom’s Tear up on the board.
And play well.
And Cheeks’ memo on Reisenbach’s promotion:
Team – I’m thrilled to share that I’ve named Amy Reisenbach the new president of CBS Entertainment. Please see the press release announcing his appointment below.
I am so happy to have Amy bring her talent, expertise and collaborative spirit to this role and lead this much-vaunted division. In her previous role as Head of Current Programming, Amy’s creative skills helped launch and sustain dozens of hit television series, many of which are still on the network today. She is loved and respected by writers, producers and her colleagues and is a passionate champion of our ongoing efforts to diversify CBS on screen and behind the camera.
Amy has worked for CBS since 2005, rising through the ranks in various programming roles at CBS Studios and CBS Entertainment. She loves CBS and the people here and will carry that enthusiasm into collaborations with other divisions of CBS and Paramount Global. I am confident that as we continue to navigate the rapid evolution of our industry, it will take on with great energy our dual mission of being the primary broadcast network and a key driver of our streaming platforms.
There was a lot of news today. Our Entertainment division teams have a new direction. I want to thank everyone at CBS, especially our entertainment teams today, for their incredible spirit of adaptation as we negotiate this change together. And, of course, I want to thank Kelly and Thom again for their significant and lasting contributions to the Network, and welcome Amy to her new role.
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