Denise Contis is stepping down from her position as Discovery Channel’s senior executive vice-president, development and production, effective today (June 19).
Contis oversaw all aspects of Discovery Channel’s development and programming, including titles such as Naked and Afraid, its spinoff Naked and Afraid XL and Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda. She also helped launch programs such as Fast N’Loud and Alaska: The Last Frontier, as well as Deadliest Catch.
Contis was also responsible for creating a New Media department, with the goal of finding digital talent and content for play on linear, and launched an internal development think tank that has led to the inception of several series including Diesel Brothers and Treasure Quest.
Contis joined Discovery Communications in 2008 as VP, production and development — West Coast at TLC. While at TLC, she served as executive producer on Sarah Palin’s Alaska and oversaw the reboot of the franchise, Say Yes To The Dress, as well as What Not to Wear. She also redeveloped LA Ink, and developed and launched the franchise series, Police Women.
Prior to joining Discovery, Contis worked as an L.A.-based executive producer, consultant and director. She started her career at ABC, supervising a daily, live series.
David Lynch and Mark Frost of Lynch/Frost Productions recruited Contis for their first non-scripted series for FOX, American Chronicles. She then joined NBC News, where she was part of the team tasked with leveraging news assets to create and launch hybrid non-scripted programming. She has also held the title of SVP, programming at the prodco A. Smith and Company.
Currently, no one has been named to replace Contis.
Below is the internal memo from Contis to Discovery’s staff:
Hello team Discovery-
I have some personal news to share. I will be stepping down from my position here at Discovery Channel starting today. This ends an incredible journey working on two of TV’s great brands, TLC and Discovery Channel. It all started with an unexpected call asking if I’d consider joining the Executive ranks at TLC. Lady luck shined on me that day. What a magnificent ride it’s been…from wedding dresses to police women to a gal running for vice president to a guy on a high wire to naked people surviving to car racing and car building to gold mining and to sharks in late night and folks navigating the dark…and all fronted by some of TV’s most memorable characters. Together, as a team, we launched numerous hit shows and grew some awesome franchises. It was an honor to work alongside you.
I want to acknowledge all of my talented colleagues. There are too many to name but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention- Lisa, Marc, Heather, Jennifer, Carl, Mike, Laurie, Lara, Ben, Paul G., Paul P. and Karen…. your partnership and counsel has been invaluable. To Rich, thank you for the opportunity and leadership. Lastly, but most importantly, thank you to my amazing team-Chris, Joe B, Joe S, Laura, Emily, Leah, Dave, Chad, Andrew, Stephanie, Max, Katlyn, Becca, Brian, Greg, Matt, Tyler, Lindsay, Todd, Craig and Gladys. Many of you have been with me since the beginning. Thank you for your passion and drive. You are the best in TV.
I believe this is an exciting time to be in the content business. Sure, the business is changing and disruption dominates but I see opportunity. The future belongs to those who innovate and take big swings. Be bold. Be naughty. Get uncomfortable. You are the keepers of the best brand in the world.
As for me, I am enthusiastic about what the future holds and starting my next chapter.
I’m not great at goodbye. But, I am great at hello. So, hello to tomorrow where we will see each other again just not in the bustling halls or elevators of Discovery.
I’ll be watching and cheering.