Comcast Shakeup Brings Creative Core Back to NBC

NBC is looking to revitalize its prime-time lineup with the appointment of a cable TV executive who transformed the once-maligned Showtime channel into a worthy rival to HBO.

Greenblatt Bob
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Greenblatt Bob

Former Showtime entertainment president Bob Greenblatt was named chairman of NBC Entertainment on Thursday.

He brought pay TV audiences such edgy shows as "The Tudors," "Weeds," and "Dexter," surprising fans by getting them to root for a philandering king, a drug-dealing mom and a serial killer.

Greenblatt's appointment suggests that cable operator Comcast, which is seeking approval to buy a controlling stake in NBC, won't be content to let NBC stay in fourth place .

It also signals that Comcast will return to investing in new shows in a big way.

Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke, who is set to take over as CEO of NBC Universal when Comcast takes over, made the announcement Thursday, ending months of speculation about who would be getting the top jobs. Earlier, current NBC Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin said he would be leaving, and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker has said he is staying on through a brief transition period.

NBC Universal also owns the Telemundo television network along with 26 TV stations; cable channels USA, Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy, CNBC and others; the Universal Pictures movie studio and Focus Features; and theme parks in California, Florida and Japan. It also has part ownership of online video site Hulu.

Other top executives stayed in their posts, some with added responsibilities. Bonnie Hammer remains in charge of cable channels such as USA and SyFy while adding E! and G4. Lauren Zalaznick will continue to oversee Bravo and Oxygen and take on Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.

Ted Harbert, a Comcast executive, joins Greenblatt at the broadcast network to oversee its TV stations and deal with station affiliates. Steve Capus remains head of NBC News; Dick Ebersol is atop NBC Sports and Ron Meyer continues to lead Universal Studios.

Burke said in a statement that while the roles won't be effective until the deal closes, he said the close of the deal was nearing and that "it is important that we are prepared to hit the ground running."