Heather Schuster promoted as top male execs exit Amazon
VOD News | On 25, Oct 2017
Heather Schuster, Tracey Lentz and Sharon Tal Yguado currently hold prominent positions running Amazon Studios, following the exit of several top male execs.
It’s been a tumultuous month for the fledgling studio, as Amazon cleans house in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal and other production issues. Amazon Studios head Roy Price was suspended two weeks ago, after The Man in the High Castle producer Isa Hackett made public allegations that he had sexually harassed her. Since then, several top male figures at the studio have followed him out of the door.
Head of Half Hour and Drama Joe Lewis left shortly after Price’s exit was made permanent. Lewis, who was promoted to the position after overseeing development of shows including Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle, has been the subject of media reports of potential conflicts of interest, such as the casting of his girlfriend, Yara Martinez, in The Tick.
A day later, Amazon Studios’ head of unscripted programming, Conrad Riggs also departed the studio. Deadline reports that Riggs may have been on shaky ground, with sources complaining to the site about his management style. Riggs, who played a key role in bringing The Grand Tour to the streaming service, has also been behind such shows as All or Nothing, Eat the World, Novak and American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, none of which have gained huge followings among TV audiences.
The rapid string of departures, though, has marked a welcome turnaround in staff diversity at Amazon Studios, which will hopefully lead to a needed change in values, gender equality and staff treatment, in an industry where male authority and abuse has traditionally been the order of the day.
Amazon has now hired Heather Schuster as its new head of unscripted programming, promoting her from a senior creative executive. Schuster was a producer on the US version of The Apprentice, and SVP of creative affairs at Reveille/Shine America.
Former AMC VP Unscripted Tracey Lentz has also been appointed head of creative unscripted, reporting to Schuster.
Sharon Tal Yguado, meanwhile, is currently in charge of all scripted development at Amazon, working alongside COO Albert Cheng, who took over from Price on an interim basis, following his initial suspension.