Original Productions ups three, revamps development team

FremantleMedia-owned Original Productions has upped three execs, while also reformatting its development department into two divisions. (Pictured, L-R: John Gray, Sarah Whalen)
June 2, 2015

FremantleMedia-owned Original Productions has upped three execs, while also streamlining its development department.

Effective immediately, the restructuring will see Sarah Whalen (pictured, right) promoted to executive VP of programming and development from senior VP of programming, a post she held since 2013.

Meanwhile, former VP of programming John Gray (pictured, left) will take on the role of senior VP of programming and development, while Jeff Bumgarner takes over as VP of programming. Initially hired as a supervising producer during season two of Original Productions’ Storage Wars (A&E), Bumgarner rose to executive producer in season five.

Elsewhere, the development department at Original Productions will split into two divisions – or pods – with Steven Robillard returning to the company to head Development Pod One as senior VP of development. The exec is back following a stint in London with FremantleMedia UK as a development executive. Previously, he helmed seasons one and two of Storage Wars as series producer, two seasons of Storage Wars: Texas as co-executive producer, and three seasons of Deadliest Catch as producer.

For Development Pod Two, Michelle Galster will head the team as VP of development. Having begun her career at Discovery, Galster has worked her way through the Original ranks as associate producer to showrunner over six seasons of Ax Men, and is also the co-executive producer and showrunner for The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man (seasons one and two).

“With four new series commitments from major networks going into production, it is the perfect time to beef up our pledge to the networks,” said Philip Segal, CEO and executive producer at Original Productions, in a statement. “The goal is to work with them creating series that reflect the network’s individual brand and promise to their viewers.”

“The networks can be assured that our pitches can be produced and successfully well executed into hit series,” added Original Productions’ president and EP Jeff Conroy.


About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.