Nine months after announcing a merger with Vivendi Universal, the Peacock's getting a new pecking order.
Kevin Reilly, a former FX executive who joined NBC as president of primetime development last year, has been tapped to succeed Jeff Zucker as president of the network's entertainment division, i.e., NBC's chief programmer.
The 41-year-old replacement will take the helm of the broadcaster's Burbank, California, operations. Aside from supervising primetime, his duties will also include overseeing daytime and late-night programming, development, scheduling and strategic planning.
Reilly will still report to his old boss, however.
After a three and a half year reign, Zucker will relocate to New York to fill the newly created post of president of NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group, where he'll oversee Vivendi's cable channels, including Trio, USA and Sci Fi Network. He'll assume his new responsibilities once the merger becomes official later this month and the GE-owned NBC fully integrates the assets of Vivendi Universal to create a $43 billion entertainment juggernaut rivaling competitors Walt Disney and Time Warner.
"Kevin is perfectly positioned to help NBC continue its tremendous run," Zucker said in a statement. "He's worked hard on a promising new development slate for next year that will extend NBC's brand and capitalize on our decade of dominance."
As NBC's new top dog, Reilly will preside over a network in the throes of change with two of its "Must-See TV" mainstays, Friends and Frasier, ending hugely successful runs later this month.
The good news is Reilly knows a little something about development.
During his first tenure at NBC in the late 1980s and early '90s, Reilly served as head of drama development, helping usher in such Peacock perennials as ER, Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order. In 1994, Reilly left NBC for Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, where he oversaw pilot development on HBO's hit series The Sopranos, as well as the NBC comedies NewsRadio and Just Shoot Me.
After becoming entertainment president of FX in 2000, Reilly pushed the fledgling cable network to higher exposure with two hit series, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning The Shield and the plastic surgery smash Nip/Tuck.
Before returning to NBC last fall, Reilly also developed FX's short-lived John Corbett series Lucky and shepherded several TV movies for the cable net, including The Pentagon Papers starring James Spader, Sins of the Father with Tom Sizemore, A Glimpse of Hell with James Caan and RFK.
Reilly's chief priority now will be to maintain NBC's top ranking in ratings among the ad-friendly 18-49 demo.
Among the big shows NBC is banking on to plug the holes: The Matt LeBlanc-led Friends spinoff Joey and the DreamWorks-produced computer-animated series Father of the Pride, about a family of big cats working for Siegfried and Roy. Reilly is also hoping to seal a new deal with Dick Wolf to renew his three Law & Order series and launch a fourth installment, Law & Order: Trial by Jury with franchise vet Jerry Orbach, for next season.
NBC's move comes just two weeks after struggling ABC announced a big shakeup, firing network bigwigs Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun and replacing them with Anne Sweeney, who will serve as chair of the network, and Stephen McPherson, now president and chief programmer for ABC.
The execs are hoping to make a big splash right away. In two weeks the networks announce their fall schedules at the annual upfront meetings in New York--an attempt to drum up big buzz, and big ad bucks, for the new slate of shows.