BBC Studios names Netflix alum to head up LA production arm

Dancing with the Stars

BBC Studios (BBCS) has appointed former Netflix exec Rob Smith as general manager of its production business in LA.

His remit includes overseeing all creative and business responsibilities for the production arm in LA, as well as exploring new opportunities for the division and collaborating with BBCS’s UK operations on format initiatives.

He takes up the role after his predecessor Matt Forde relocated to London to become MD of international production and formats.

Rob Smith

Smith was previously director of unscripted at Netflix and before that had been head of unscripted television for Endemol Shine Group, working on shows such as Deal Or No Deal and Wipeout.

BBCS has also promoted two of its LA-based execs, with Valerie Bruce upped to EVP and commercial director and Debby Reid Vigna named EVP of production.

Bruce has been with BBCS for eight years and will continue to oversee business and commercial affairs while working on shows including Dancing With The Stars and Top Gear.

Vigna will oversee all LA-based productions and work across development, having been with the company for a decade.

Smith reports into Forde, while his exec team in LA includes Ryan O’Dowd, senior VP of entertainment development, and Travis Shakespeare, senior VP of unscripted programming.

Forde said: “Rob’s extensive experience in overseeing production and commercial exploitation across multiple formats perfectly aligns with our ambitions, and I know the LA team and business will thrive under his leadership.”

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