Amazon Studios Names Former NBC Exec Vernon Sanders as Co-Head of Television

Vernon Sanders is joining Amazon Studios as co-head of its television division. (Mitchell Haaseth / NBC)

As it seeks to create mainstream blockbuster series to distinguish itself in an increasingly competitive TV market, Amazon Studios has tapped another NBC veteran for a key leadership role.

Vernon Sanders has been named co-head of television, and will work alongside co-head Albert Cheng to oversee the creative and production units of the TV operation for Amazon Prime Video.

Sanders had a long tenure at NBC, where he was responsible for managing the network’s scripted slate. His titles at the network included executive vice president of current programming, executive vice president of comedy programming, and senior vice president of drama for the network and Universal Television.

He recently had an overall producing deal with Universal Television.

Sanders will report to Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, who joined the Santa Monica-based studio in January from NBC, where she served as president of NBC Entertainment. Salke replaced Roy Price, who resigned last year after being accused of sexual harassment by an executive producer on the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle.”

Salke said in a statement Monday that she worked with Sanders for seven years at NBC.

“Having worked side-by-side with him for seven years at NBC Entertainment, I can speak first-hand to his talents as a leader and creative force,” Salke said. “I know Vernon and Albert Cheng will be a formidable team as we continue to build Amazon Studios.”

Since it was founded in 2010, Amazon Studios has launched a handful of quirky, critically acclaimed series, including “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

But the studio is now refocusing its TV efforts on blockbuster content, most notably with its planned “Lord of the Rings” series, based on the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. The shift in strategy is intended to compete against the likes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

Amazon Studios is also behind “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” the new spy series starring John Krasinski, which bows Aug. 31, as well as the new Julia Roberts series “Homecoming,” which is expected to debut later this year.

SOURCE: L.A. Times – David Ng

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