Bob Greenblatt steps down as NBC entertainment chief; Telegdy and Cheeks step in

NBC hopes to keep momentum as the top network

With the 2018-19 television season set to get underway on Monday, there is a major shake-up at NBC.

Robert Greenblatt announced last week he was stepping down as chairman of NBC Entertainment, effective at the end of Monday. Today, NBC announced not one, but two people will run the entertainment division: Paul Telegdy, who currently runs the network’s syndication division, and George Cheeks, co-president of NBC’s cable division and also president of late-night programming.

This is the second major move in recent weeks among the network ranks. Two weeks ago, CBS Chairman Les Moonves was forced out amid allegations of sexual harassment. The announcement was made this morning by Comcast CEO Steve Burke. Comcast is NBCUniversal’s parent.

Meet your new NBC bosses: George Cheeks (l.) and Paul Telegdy

Greenblatt’s decision to step away is simple and much more low-key: he wanted to move on to other things. Since he arrived in January 2011, NBC’s ratings have turned around from a fourth-place finish in 2009 under the disastrous Ben Silverman era (which also saw Jay Leno take over the last hour of prime-time every weeknight) to the top-rated network in the key 18-49 demo for the first-time since the glory days of the “Must-See TV” era, and last season claimed the top spot in total viewers overall.  Greenblatt helped launched ratings hits such as The Voice, This Is Us, and Dick Wolf’s trio of “Chicago” dramas, and brought back live musicals to broadcast television, with the success of The Sound Of Music, The Wiz, and Hairspray Live. As opposed to Silverman, Greenblatt’s tenure was mostly drama and controversy-free.

NBC also has the top-rated overall program on television, Sunday Night Football.

Greenblatt plans serve in an consultant role during the transition and also plans to continue to have a hand in producing NBC’s live-musicials.

Having two people run the entertainment division isn’t unusual: recently, Dana Walden and Gary Newman were co-presidents of Fox’s entertainment division, to mixed results. When Disney’s deal to acquire most of the assets of 21st Century Fox closes next year, it is widely expected Dana Walden will depart to join Disney/ABC’s television group, while Gary Newman heads “New Fox”, at least on a temporary basis.

As reported here last week, Telegdy was instrumental in helping launch Voice judge Kelly Clarkson’s new daytime talk show, with clearances on NBC’s owned-and-operated stations including WMAQ-TV here. While it was widely reported Clarkson would take over Steve Harvey’s time slots on the NBC-owned stations, no official decision has been made.