BELA BAJARIA NAMED EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSAL MEDIA STUDIOS
NBC-OWNED PRODUCTION COMPANY WILL BECOME STAND-ALONE STUDIO
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- August 1, 2011 -- Veteran CBS network and cable television executive Bela Bajaria was named Executive Vice President of Universal Media Studios, it was announced today by Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment, to whom she will report. Her appointment as the head of the NBC television production company will begin the re-establishment of the studio as a stand-alone entity after it was folded into the NBC network three years ago. She will take up her post in mid-August and supervise the re-structuring of the company.
"I am delighted that we have lured an executive of Bela's breadth and experience to run UMS with me," said Greenblatt. "I worked with her in several capacities -- most notably, she was my network executive when I produced the 'Elvis' miniseries for CBS -- and I've always admired her creative instincts, her unbridled enthusiasm, and her skills as both a buyer and a seller. She is the breath of fresh air we need as we start to reorganize UMS into a studio that will continue to produce series for NBC as well as the other networks."
Bajaria currently holds two key posts simultaneously: Senior Vice President, Cable Programming for CBS TV Studios, and Senior Vice President of Movies and Miniseries for the CBS network. Upon creating the cable division at CBS TV Studios four years ago, Bajaria has shepherded many cable dramas and comedies from prolific writers and directors. Most recently, "Common Law," written by Marianne Wibberley and Cormac Wibberley and directed by Jon Turteltaub, was picked up to series for USA Network last month. Current active projects under Bajaria's division include award-winning show-runner Glenn Gordon Caron producing a docu-comedy written and directed by Andrew Gurland ("The Virginity Hit") for Showtime, and the one-hour drama "Panic Boys," written by Roberto Benabib, starring Anthony Edwards and Mark Ruffalo, also for Showtime. She is currently working on a varied slate of cable projects by notable writers such as Carol Mendelsohn, Julian Fellowes, Richard Shepard, Augusten Burroughs, Anthony Zuiker, Rick Cleveland and James Ellroy
The first drama series out of her cable division was "The Cleaner," starring Benjamin Bratt, which launched on the A&E Network as their first scripted show.
Bajaria has simultaneously overseen the CBS Sunday Night Movie, the #1 movie franchise on television, for over 10 years as Senior Vice President, Movies and Miniseries, including oversight of the long-running, critically acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. She just completed production of the eighth Jesse Stone movie in the highly rated franchise starring Tom Selleck. Bajaria has worked on many multiple Emmy Award-nominated miniseries, including "Joan of Arc," "Jesus," "Reagans," "Elvis" (produced by Greenblatt Janollari) and "Hitler." She has overseen over 130 movies that have showcased actors William Hurt, Anna Paquin, Sean Hayes, Anne Bancroft, Anjelica Huston, Mary Louise Parker, Christina Applegate, Keri Russell, Jessica Lange, Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon and many others.
Under Bajaria's supervision, the long-form division tackled many topical subjects such as Enron but also secured highly competitive rights such as those of Elizabeth Smart and Amber Frey. Bajaria supervised the movie adaptations of many books by acclaimed, best-selling authors such as Larry McMurtry, John Grisham, James Patterson and Norman Mailer. She began working at CBS in 1996 in the movie department.
Bajaria began her career at First Serve Entertainment as a creative executive in charge of production, where she anchored, wrote and produced a weekly entertainment and news show on KSCI-TV Los Angeles. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications.
Universal Media Studios produces some of television's most critically acclaimed and successful television programs and this year was again a dominant force in the Emmy race -- with 49 Emmy nominations and garnering six outstanding series nominations for "30 Rock," "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," "Friday Night Lights," "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
The studio produces or co-produces series for primetime, late night, longform, reality and digital media projects for a variety of broadcast networks as well as online outlets. Its current roster features Emmy-winning comedies "The Office," "30 Rock," and critical favorite "Parks and Recreation" as well as dramas "House" (one of television's top-rated series globally), "Parenthood" and "Friday Night Lights," among others. Additionally, the studio, along with Wolf Films, produces "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which is part of the most successful drama series brand in television history. Many of these series have been honored with prestigious Emmy, Golden Globe, Peabody, SAG, AFI and Humanitas awards.
New scripted series produced by Universal Media Studios for the 2011-2012 season include the dramas "Prime Suspect," "Smash," "Grimm" and comedies "Whitney," "Up All Night," "Free Agents," "Bent" and "Best Friends Forever" (working title).
Universal Media Studios was formed after NBC acquired Universal in May 2004. The former NBC Studios first made its mark in the 1950s with NBC's hit western "Bonanza" and went on to create hit series including "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Providence" and "Will & Grace." Universal Television was created in 1951, and its roster of memorable programs includes "Leave It to Beaver," "Columbo," "The Rockford Files," "Miami Vice," and "Law & Order," among dozens of others.
Late-night programs include NBC's successful "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," "Saturday Night Live," and "Last Call with Carson Daly."