51 Minds co-founder exits as Endemol prodco reshuffles

Christian Sarabia has been promoted to president of Endemol’s 51 Minds as the US reality prodco’s co-founder Mark Cronin exits to launch his own firm.

Chris_sarabiaThe changes come just months after the other 51 Minds co-founder, Cris Abrego, was tapped to as one of two execs at the top of Endemol North America.

Sarabia is a long serving 51 Minds exec, beginning at the firm at the onset of the reality TV boom before moving up to produce a number of series for VH1 such as Flavor of Love and The Surreal Life. He also exec produced For the Love of Ray J of the network and CBS’s Same Name and has showrunner credits on Marrying the Game and TI & Tiny: The Family Hustle.

He now takes the leadership role at 51 Minds, which Endemol acquired in 2008, effective immediately.

Company co-founder Cronin, who is managing director, is exiting the the prodco and will launch his own producer, Little Wooden Boat Productions. The firm will focus on comedic reality TV and is already on a talk show with Diablo Cody. Announcements on key personnel and development projecta will follow at a later date.

Mark_CroninCronin will also remain exec producer on several 51 Minds programmes, including Below Deck for Bravo and Mind of a Man for GSN.

“My experience with Endemol has been incredibly enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them in my new capacity, going back to my roots as an independent producer,” said Cronin.

Abrego said of the changes: “Mark is one of the most prolific producers in the unscripted space. His creative instincts have been the driving force behind his extraordinary success. I congratulate him on his new venture and I look forward to working with him as a creative and talented producer.

“Christian worked with us at 51 Minds on some of our most successful hits and he has nurtured a number of cable’s highest rated series.  I am confident his leadership will help guide 51 Minds to new levels of achievement.”

These latest developments closely follow changes at Endemol’s other US reality TV producer, Original Media, whose co-founder Charlie Corwin was elevated alongside Abrego to run Endemol North America. That came after David Goldberg’s exit.

Stick Figure Productions co-founder and development chief Chris Laikind was named as new Original CEO last week.

In further news, Endemol North America has signed an exclusive overall deal with Hispanic rapper Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, to develop and produce original content for television and digital platforms and create a channel for new digital platform Endemol Beyond.

Pitbull will executive produce the projects along with manager and Latium Entertainment CEO Charles Chavez.

Abrego and Corwin, Endemol North America co-CEOs and chairmen, and Pitbull announced the deal at an Endemol party at NATPE on Monday night.

Abrego said: “The US Hispanic consumer and gigantic global stars like Pitbull have been the underpinning for the major Latin music and cultural influences in the US and around the world. By offering the support, global infrastructure and reach for television and digital that only Endemol can provide, we look forward to the output and to the multitude of possibilities that this collaboration will generate.”

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