People/Biz

BBC Studios ups Valerie Bruce, Sam Zoda as Rob Smith exits

Industry veteran Rob Smith has stepped down from his role as general manager of BBC Studios after nine months with the Los Angeles-based production arm. Smith, who was named to the post ...
May 20, 2020

Industry veteran Rob Smith has stepped down from his role as general manager of BBC Studios after nine months with the Los Angeles-based production arm.

Smith, who was named to the post in September, has been replaced at the global content creator by long-time BBC executive Valerie Bruce (pictured left), who has been promoted from her post as EVP and commercial director after a nine-year stint with the company.

She will be joined at BBC Studios Los Angeles by Sam Zoda (right), who has been tapped as EVP of production. He reports directly into Bruce.

In her new role as GM, Bruce will be tasked with shepherding the LA division’s production activities to drive commercial growth while also collaborating with the UK in-house production team and indie producers on formats and original programs for the American marketplace.

Previously for BBC Studios, Bruce led negotiations on the first-look deals with Fandom Fiction and Lionsgate, the latter of which has resulted in two scripted pilots in Fox’s This Country and CBS’s Ghosts. 

Bruce first joined BBC Studios in 2011 as SVP of business affairs before being promoted to become SVP and commercial director of the U.S. unit in 2016. Prior to BBC Studios, she held senior executive positions for such companies as FilmDistrict, Apparition, IFC, The Sundance Channel, MTV Networks and Broadway Video.

Zoda, meanwhile, will oversee all unscripted production for the Los Angeles studio, including Dancing With the StarsLife Below Zero and Top Gear America. Most recently, he has served as executive in charge of production on seasons 26 to 28 of Dancing with the Stars and Dancing with the Stars: Juniors.

Before boarding BBC Studios, Zoda served as SVP of production at Granada America/ITV Studios America, rising to become EVP in 2005 and later chief operating officer and head of production and current programming until his departure in 2016.

Zoda’s additional unscripted credits include Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares andNanny 911 for Fox; Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here for NBC; and #Rich Kids of Beverly Hills for E!, among others.

“Valerie is the perfect executive to take BBC Studios to the next level,” said Matthew Forde, MD of international production & formats at BBC Studios, in a statement. “Her strategic vision, business acumen and talent relations expertise, united with Sam’s industry insight, critical judgment and established production experience will prove to be a powerful combination and a successful team.”

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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