Katherine Pope named President of Sony Pictures Television Studios
Katherine Pope is once again taking the helm of a major TV studio. Pope, who has served as Head of Original Content at Charter Communications’ Spectrum Originals for the past four and a half years, is joining Sony Pictures Television as President of Sony Pictures Television Studios, overseeing all domestic scripted productions. She is in a rare company of just a couple of other women who have held a top post at the indie TV studio, including Barbara Corday, who was President of Columbia Pictures Television in the 1980s, and Helene Michaels, who did a brief stint as President of Network Production for Columbia TriStar TV in 1999-2000. Pope, who starts Aug. 22, will succeed Jeff Frost, who announced last month that he would be stepping down after five years in the job. She will be literally moving across the street as the Spectrum Originals office is next to the Sony lot.
Pope, who has extensive studio, network and production company experience and ran NBC Universal TV Studios (now Universal Television) 15 years ago, emerged as an early frontrunner for the Sony TV Studios job around the time of Frost’s exit announcement in early June. The search went through multiple rounds, and other seasoned executives were considered — the vast majority of them female from what I’ve heard — with Pope remaining at or close to the top of the list of candidates the entire time.
In her new role, Pope will report to Ravi Ahuja, Chairman, Global Television Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment Corporate Development. She is joining the studio just as it hit an all-time high of over 50 series in production, including such hits as Better Call Saul, The Good Doctor, The Boys, Cobra Kai, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs, Outlander, The Afterparty and The Wheel of Time, but is also facing challenges, along with opportunities, as an independent studio not affiliated with a linear network or a streamer.
“Katherine has proven herself as a dynamic leader with impeccable taste and the ability to successfully develop and produce content that resonates with audiences,” said Ahuja. “She is an excellent fit for this role and I’m delighted that she has chosen to join us at SPT.”
Reporting to Pope will be Sony TV’s top development executive, Jason Clodfelter, Co-President, SPT Studios who recently renewed his contract to continue in his role. Pope and Clodfelter have known each other for a long time and are believed to have a close working relationship.
Sony TV helped put Spectrum Originals on the map with L.A.’s Finest after Pope had joined Charter to launch the platform. Originally developed for NBC, the Sony TV-produced drama starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union marked the first series ordered by Pope for Spectrum Originals and helped establish a business template for other studios to sell to the new original programming player. In addition to L.A.’s Finest, which ran for two seasons, Sony TV also produced the Mad About You revival for the channel and is behind the high-profile upcoming Spectrum Originals limited series A Spy Among Friends, starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce and Panhandle, starring Luke Kirby.
Other original series Pope has commissioned at Spectrum include Joe Pickett, which became Spectrum Originals’ most-watched show ever, Angela Black as well as the upcoming Beacon 23, starring Lena Headey and Stephan James, and George & Tammy, starring Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon.
Before joining Charter, Pope ran the TV division of Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, which was based at Sony. Prior to that, Pope launched the television division at Peter Chernin’s 20th Century Fox-based production company and oversaw all creative development and production and executive produced such series as New Girl, which ran on Fox for seven seasons.
New Girl launched a collaboration between the series’ creator/executive producer Liz Meriwether and Pope. Alongside the executive jobs she has held, Pope has served as an executive producer on every Liz Meriwether series since New Girl, most recently Hulu’s The Dropout, which just earned six Emmy nominations, including for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series.
Earlier in her career, Pope spent 10 years at NBC Universal. She joined NBC Studios as a primetime series associate and then rose through the ranks to EVP at NBC and President of NBC Universal Television Studios, a post she held for a year and a half. Among the shows she shepherded at NBC and NBC Uni TV Studios were Heroes, Friday Night Lights, House, The Office and 30 Rock. Pope began her career in network news at CBS and ABC News, producing documentaries and specials.
“Katherine brings vast experience that will help us build on the overall strength of our global production capabilities at the studio. With Katherine leading our scripted production business in the U.S. and Wayne Garvie leading our international production business, we have an incredible leadership team dedicated to working with the industry’s top talent to produce undeniable content around the world,” Ahuja said.
At Sony TV, Pope will reunite with such top TV writer-producers that she has worked with in the past like House creator David Shore, now developer/executive producer of Sony TV’s hit medical drama The Good Doctor, Amy Lippman and Alex Cary.
“I am thrilled to be joining the incredibly talented team Tony and Ravi have assembled at SPT — a studio with the strength, expertise and independence to lead amidst the challenges of a rapidly evolving marketplace,” said Pope. “I have long admired the creativity and high-quality work SPT consistently produces and can’t wait to explore all the opportunities that lie ahead. I am excited to step onto the lot and get started!” Deadline