BBC Studios has bolstered its Los Angeles production business as ex Netflix exec Rob Smith joins as General Manger and Valerie Bruce is promoted to Executive Vice President, Commercial Director, and Debby Reid Vigna is made Executive Vice President, Production.

Smith will report into his predecessor, Matt Forde, who recently relocated to London to assume the role of Managing Director, International Production & Formats. Smith’s executive team will include Bruce and Vigna as well as creative heads Ryan O’Dowd, Senior Vice President, Entertainment Development, and Travis Shakespeare, Senior Vice President, Unscripted Programming.
Smith, a former Netflix executive and Head of Unscripted Television at Endemol Shine, will be responsible for overseeing all creative and business aspects of the division, in addition to leading the team in developing new BBC Studios production activities. He will also collaborate with the UK production team, and BBC Studios’ invested UK independent producers, on a format strategy – using existing and new programmes – for the U.S. market.

Matt Forde, Managing Director, International Production & Formats, BBC Studios, said, “Rob’s extensive experience in overseeing production and commercial exploitation across multiple formats perfectly aligns with our ambitions, and I know the Los Angeles team and business will thrive under his leadership.”
Bruce has been with BBC Studios for eight years and is most recently credited with executing and managing first-look deals with partners Lionsgate and Fandom Fiction. As Executive Vice President, Commercial Director, she will continue to oversee Business and Commercial Affairs and drive all business initiatives affiliated with global brands Dancing with the Stars and Top Gear.
As Executive Vice President, Production, Vigna will continue to manage all Los Angeles-based productions and execution of the development strategy of BBC Studios’ UK formats and original IP.
Forde continued, “Both individually and collaboratively, Valerie and Debby have brought expertise, creative strength, and finesse to their roles throughout their years at BBC Studios. It has been my fortune to have these talented executives on my team and I’m certain their invaluable contributions will continue to play an integral part in the growth and success of our production business.”
Smith said, “I am excited to join such a prestigious company and look forward to following the BBC’s proud legacy of creating quality entertainment. The promotions of Debby and Valerie, and the continued great work of Ryan, Travis, and the stellar team in LA sets us up for true success. I’m looking forward to working with them, as well as the incredible BBC Studios team in the UK and around the world, to support the global business.”
A 15-year veteran of Endemol/Endemol Shine, Smith served as the Head of Unscripted Television developing and overseeing the Emmy award-winning Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Deal or No Deal, and Wipeout, among many others. Most recently, he was a senior executive at Netflix, overseeing the company’s push into international local language unscripted television.
Bruce first joined the BBC Studios team in 2011 as Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, BBC AMERICA where she negotiated the channel’s unscripted and scripted series deals, including the Emmy award-winning Orphan Black. Upon joining the production team in 2016 as Senior Vice President, Commercial Director, Bruce was responsible for driving all business initiatives and cultivating talent relations for the studio. Prior to joining BBC Studios, Bruce held several senior executive positions in the film and television industry for companies such as FilmDistrict, Apparition, IFC, The Sundance Channel, MTV Networks, and Broadway Video.
Vigna joined BBC Studios in 2010 and has supervised all areas of the unscripted television production business – from development and operations to legal, finance, and post-production. Vigna has produced over 33 series, including Dancing with the Stars, the U.S. versions of Top Gear, What Not to Wear, and the Emmy award-winning Life Below Zero. Prior to joining BBC Studios, Vigna served as Senior Vice President for GRB Entertainment for 14 years, where she produced over 1,200 primetime hours of unscripted programming for broadcast and cable networks including NBC, Fox, Discovery, and Nat Geo.

Staff Reporter

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