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Exclusive: Amazon eyes Bachelor producer for unscripted role

Network execs from ABC and Fox are being eyed for top unscripted roles at Top Gear SVOD platform Amazon.

TBI understands that Robert Mills, senior vice-president of alternative series, specials, and late-night programming at US broadcaster ABC and long-time producer of The Bachelor, is among the frontrunners for the head of unscripted role at the streaming service, which was vacated by Heather Schuster in August.

It is also believed that Robert Wade, president of alternative entertainment at Fox and former Dancing With The Stars showrunner, is also in the mix for a role at Amazon.

Schuster – a former exec at Ryan Seacrest Productions – served as head of unscripted at Amazon for under a year, having taken over from Conrad Riggs, who was ousted as part of a major exec reshuffle, in October 2017.

She exited the business last month following an internal investigation into alleged inappropriate comments during meetings.

Sources have said that Amazon is now keen for a fresh start for its unscripted arm and have been looking to get execs from network backgrounds in place to commission more mainstream programming.

Mills – who reports into ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey – has overseen ABC’s long-running dating format The Bachelor for more than 12 years. His group oversees production on American Idol, Shark Tank and Dancing With The Stars.

Mills, who was previously vice-president of alternative series at ABC Entertainment, first joined ABC’s alternative arm in 2003.

Meanwhile, Wade was named president of alternative programming at Fox in February 2017 – a role that was resurrected at the broadcaster after four years. Recent credits include The Four and Beat Shazam.

He was previously a showrunner on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Before that, he was head of entertainment development at BBC Worldwide.

The $71bn Disney-Fox merger – which was cleared by US regulators in late July – is seeing significant overhaul of exec teams at both businesses as the companies rejig strategies and people.

Over at Amazon, Jennifer Salke heads Studios with co-heads of television Albert Cheng and Vernon Sanders.

The business, which has a $4.5bn war chest, has greenlit a number of scripted dramas and comedies in recent months, but has been relatively quiet in the unscripted space outside of a handful of commissions, such as a fashion series from Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn and football series All Or Nothing: Manchester City.

However, its major unscripted entry The Grand Tour has performed extremely well for Prime Video in a number of territories.

British regulator Ofcom’s Media Nations report found that the Jeremy Clarkson-fronted The Grand Tour was among the most-streamed shows in the UK in the first quarter of 2018.