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BBC Studios hires Netflix alum in LA

BBC Studios (BBCS) has bolstered its LA production business with the appointment of a former Netflix and Endemol Shine exec as general manager, along with a pair of internal promotions.

Rob Smith

Rob Smith is joining the production arm of the UK pubcaster as general manager of its LA office, while Valerie Bruce has been promoted to executive VP, commercial director, and Debby Reid Vigna has been upped to executive VP, production.

Smith will report to his predecessor, Matt Forde, who recently relocated to London to assume the role of MD of international production and formats.

Smith’s executive team will include Bruce and Vigna as well as creative heads Ryan O’Dowd, senior VP of entertainment development, and Travis Shakespeare, senior VP of unscripted programming.

A former Netflix executive and head of unscripted television at Endemol Shine, Smith will be responsible for overseeing all creative and business aspects of the division, in addition to leading the team in developing new BBCS production activities.

He will also collaborate with the UK production team, and UK prodcos in which BBCS holds a stake, on a format strategy around existing and new programmes for the US market.

In his 15 years at Endemol Shine, Smith oversaw shows including Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Deal or No Deal and Wipeout. He was most recently a senior executive at Netflix, overseeing the streamer’s push into international local-language unscripted television.

Forde said: “Rob’s extensive experience in overseeing production and commercial exploitation across multiple formats perfectly aligns with our ambitions, and I know the LA team and business will thrive under his leadership.”

Bruce has been with BBCS for eight years, most recently being credited with executing and managing first-look deals with Lionsgate and Fandom Fiction. In her new role, she will continue to oversee business and commercial affairs and drive all business initiatives affiliated with Dancing with the Stars and Top Gear.

Vigna, who has been with the company for a decade, will continue to manage all LA-based productions and execute the development strategy of BBCS’s UK formats and original IP.

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