People/Biz

Bunim/Murray expands development, programming teams

Banijay Group’s Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP) is expanding the roles of its senior management team. Julie Pizzi will be elevated from co-president to president of entertainment and development. Farnaz Farjam Chazan will be promoted ...
February 2, 2018

Banijay Group’s Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP) is expanding the roles of its senior management team.

Julie Pizzi will be elevated from co-president to president of entertainment and development. Farnaz Farjam Chazan will be promoted to SVP, entertainment and development, and Sasha Alpert, who was in charge of both casting and BMP Films, has been upped to EVP of entertainment and development.

Ben Salter has become SVP of development, while long-time BMP showrunner and EP Russell Jay will officially join the company as VP of entertainment and development. Finally, Megan Sleeper has been upped to SVP, casting.

In a statement, BMP said in 2017 it sold more shows and had more series on air than in any given year: 26 series – including 10 new programs – on 14 different networks. These appointment notices are in response to the prodco’s growth.

As president of entertainment and development, Pizzi (pictured) will continue to lead creative and development for all series, with a focus on increasing the development of original formats and the production of existing BMP and Banijay formats in the U.S. She is the leading producer on The Challenge and is the executive in charge of developing and producing Bill Nye Saves the World. Alongside Chazan, Pizzi developed the Facebook Watch series Ball in the Family.

Jeff Jenkins, BMP’s former co-president of entertainment and development, left the company in November of 2017.

Chazan has been with Bunim/Murray Productions for more than 15 years. She helped popularize some of the company’s most-watched celeb-reality series, including The Simple Life. She has been the lead producer on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and helped launch all of the Kardashian/Jenner franchise programming.

Three-time Emmy Award winner Sasha Alpert has led BMP’s documentary division since its 2008 launch. Alpert was the producer of They Call Us Monsters, Autism: The Musical, and Valentine Road.  She has also cast more than 25 seasons of The Real World, 11 seasons of Project Runway, three seasons of Best Ink and four seasons of The Simple Life, and was awarded a 2017 Emmy Award for “Outstanding Casting of a Reality Program” for Born This Way.  As EVP of programming and development, Alpert’s focus will shift to the development of longer form docuseries.

Ben Salter, now SVP, development, has been with BMP for more than 23 years, beginning with Road Rules. He has been involved with launching and developing series such as The Simple Life, Making the Band, The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best and The Real Cancun.  Most recently, he has been responsible for crafting, producing, directing and overseeing the company’s development projects and new series sizzle reels.  Moving forward, his duties will expand to include overall development of new series.

Russell Jay, a longtime producer for BMP series including The Real World, The Challenge and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, has been the showrunner and EP for Total Divas since it premiered on E! seven seasons ago.  He also helped develop and launch the spinoff series Total Bellas, and is a producer of Miz and Mrs. As VP, entertainment and development, Jay will continue to expand upon BMP’s current series and franchises.

Finally, Sleeper has worked at BMP for the past 15 years, supervising the casting of talent for productions such as The Real WorldStarting OverLove Games and The Selection: Special Operations Experiment.

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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