CBS Shakeup: Thom Sherman Steps Down & Segues To Producing Deal, Amy Reisenbach Upped To President Of Entertainment

EXCLUSIVE: The changeover at the top of CBS’ entertainment operations continues. I hear Thom Sherman is stepping down as Senior Executive Vice President, Programming, CBS Entertainment and is getting an expansive production deal with the company. The move follows the news broken by Deadline earlier this morning that CBS veteran Kelly Kahl will be leaving his post as President of Entertainment at the end of the year. I hear the network’s head of current Amy Reisenbach will be named new President of Entertainment.

“Team – I want you to be aware of a significant transition that’s happening today,” Cheeks said in his company memo announcing Kahl’s pending exit this morning.

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Kahl and Sherman’s departures and Reisenbach’s promotion are part of the same “restructuring and streamlining of leadership” in the network’s entertainment division, I hear. Details are still murky but word is that the top CBS Entertainment job, which in the past had been held by one person, including Nina Tassler and Glenn Geller, will be consolidated again and held by Reisenbach, who is well liked in the creative community.

This marks the biggest executive move for Cheeks since he joined then-ViacomCBS almost three years ago to overseeing the CBS brands. It comes on a day of layoffs across CBS parent Paramount Global, primarily in the TV divisions, as congloms are looking to cut costs. It also comes amid an ongoing consolidation as broadcast ratings decline — there is no dedicated top entertainment executives at the other two Big 3 networks, ABC and NBC, where the same executive oversees both the broadcast network and its sister streaming platform.

UPDATE 11:35 AM: Cheeks and Sherman sent out internal memos (you can read them below) confirming that Sherman is exiting as an executive and that the company is “entering an overall producing deal spanning CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios with Thom continuing to develop and produce programming for the Network and other parts of Paramount Global,” as Cheeks said.

In his note, Sherman called Kahl “the brother I never had, my friend, and the best work-partner I could ever have imagined” and listed some of their administration’s biggest accomplishments.

2nd UPDATE 12:20 PM: CBS also has confirmed Reisenbach’s ascendance to President of Entertainment. Reporting to Cheeks, she will oversee all of the network’s primetime, daytime and late night creative departments, including comedy and drama development, alternative, specials, current programming, scheduling and casting.

“I’m so happy to have Amy bring her talent, expertise and collaborative spirit to this position and lead this vaunted division,” Cheeks said in an internal email (you can read it in full below.) “She is beloved and respected by writers, producers and colleagues alike and is a passionate champion of our ongoing efforts to diversify CBS on screen and behind the camera.”

As EVP, Current Programs, Reisenbach ran the combined department that oversees current programming for both CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios. In addition, she had oversight of CBS Daytime.

Reisenbach was previously SVP, Current Programs, from September 2015 through June 2017, supervising all series produced by the studio for The CW, while continuing to work on several shows broadcast on CBS. She joined CBS Studios in 2005 as Manager, Current Programs, was promoted to director a year later, and named VP in 2011.

Before that, she worked at Warner Bros. Television in the drama development and current departments.

“I want to thank George, Kelly Kahl, David Stapf and Thom Sherman for being amazing bosses and colleagues, and supporting my growth path to this moment,” Reisenbach said. “I’m excited and proud to continue our tradition of excellence that everyone at this Network strives to exceed every day.”

Sherman joined CBS in 2017 from the CW. Since then, he has overseen development on such hit additions to the network’s schedule as FBI and spinoffs FBI: Most Wanted and FBI: International, The Equalizer, NCIS: Hawai’i, and new breakout Fire Country on the drama side as well as comedies The Neighborhood, Bob ♥ Abishola and Ghosts. CBS has remained the most watched broadcast network for the past 14 years, and the network again is leading the pack this fall with 17 of the 25 most-watched entertainment programs of the season so far.

Sherman joined CBS from the CW where, as EVP and head of programming, he developed and supervised such series as Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, The Flash and Jane the Virgin.

From 2004-2006, Sherman was President of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, where he helped oversee the first two seasons of Lost and the last two seasons of Alias.

From 1996-2004, Sherman worked in Drama Series Development at ABC, the last five years as department head. While at ABC, he was responsible for the development and/or oversight of such series such as Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Alias, NYPD Blue, The Practice and Once and Again.

Here is Cheeks’ note on Sherman:

Team – As I wrote to you earlier, we are restructuring and streamlining the leadership team at CBS Entertainment. As part of this, our colleague Thom Sherman will be transitioning out of his role as Senior Executive Vice President, Programming by the end of this year. Below please see the note Thom sent to his team earlier today.

At the same time, I’m happy to share that Thom will remain connected to CBS. We are entering into an overall producing deal spanning CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios with Thom continuing to develop and produce programming for the Network and other parts of Paramount Global. Thom’s creative instincts about what kinds of shows CBS viewers love are clear to all of us. I’m glad that we’ll continue to draw upon those instincts and his programming talents in both a producing and advisory capacity.

Thom has been a highly respected creative executive at CBS, The CW and as President of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company. His relationships, skillsets and experience offer great value as a producer in this new capacity.

Please join me in thanking Thom for all his contributions to the Network and wishing him well in his new CBS role.

George

Sherman’s email:

Team,

This morning’s news was a shock, and I know you’re all as saddened by it as I am. Kelly is the brother I never had, my friend, and the best work-partner I could ever have imagined. I am beyond thankful for his resolute leadership, guidance, collaboration, and humor, and it’s hard to fathom that he and I won’t be doing this together anymore.

And, alas, I too will be moving on to a new phase of my career next year.

It has been my distinct privilege to have worked with all of you these past 5 1/2 years. You are a remarkable group of immensely talented people, the best in the business at what you do, and I am extremely honored to have stood with you as season-after-season together we programmed America’s #1 Network.

Look at just a few of the many things we accomplished:

–We put together a slate of shows that is the envy of the Business with the #1 new drama on Broadcast 5 years running, and this year the top 3 new shows. We also launched the #1 new comedy 4 straight seasons, and now last year’s #1 hit, “Ghosts,” is fighting it out with one of our other great hits, “Young Sheldon,” for the #1 OVERALL Broadcast comedy slot. Powerful.

–CBS is now recognized for its diversity in front of, and behind, the camera; an incredible turnaround of which we should all be very proud.

–We worked hard to change the culture inside CBS to be more inclusive, welcoming, warm, fun, and (relatively!) stress-free. Tremendous progress achieved.

But more importantly than the above successes we shared, your talents are only outweighed by your KINDNESS. I am blessed to have worked with all of you really super exceptionally extraordinarily NICE and CARING people. I thank you all for helping create an inspiring and nurturing environment and for the dedication and brilliance with which you all do your jobs. I will carry you all in my heart as we continue our journeys, and I look forward to furthering our friendships.

Now go throw a Thom’s Tear up on the board.

And play well.

Thom

And Cheeks’ memo on Reisenbach’s promotion:

Team – I’m excited to share that I have named Amy Reisenbach the new president of CBS Entertainment. Please see the press release announcing her appointment below.

I’m so happy to have Amy bring her talent, expertise and collaborative spirit to this position and lead this vaunted division. In her previous role as head of current programming, Amy’s creative skills helped launch and sustain scores of hit television series, including many still on the Network today. She is beloved and respected by writers, producers and colleagues alike and is a passionate champion of our ongoing efforts to diversify CBS on screen and behind the camera.

Amy has been with CBS since 2005, rising through the ranks in various programming roles at CBS Studios and CBS Entertainment. She loves CBS and the people here and will carry that enthusiasm into collaborations with other CBS divisions and throughout Paramount Global. I’m confident that while we continue to navigate the rapid change in our industry, she will embrace with high energy our dual mission to be the leading broadcast network and a key driver of our streaming platforms.

There has been a lot of news today. Our teams in the Entertainment division have new leadership. I want to thank everyone at CBS, particularly our Entertainment teams today, for their amazing adaptive spirit as we negotiate this change together. And, of course, I want to again recognize Kelly and Thom for their significant and lasting contributions to the Network, and welcome Amy to her new role.

George

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