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The New Head Of Drama Programming At NBC Is A Black Woman

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 10, 2012 2:14 PM
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What this means in the larger scheme of things remains to be seen; I just don't have enough info currently to make any assessments. But it's good news, and certainly great for Pearlena Igbokwe

One thing I'm working on currently is putting together a chart of all the current black executives working within the Hollywood studio system, along with their positions and details as to what their jobs entail; but I obviously need some help with that; so if anyone reading this can be of any assistance, email me at; I think a chart like that (updated as changes happen) could be of great value, especially as we constantly discuss salient matters of the business, like what specific people have greenlight power, who the real so-called movers and shakers are, etc.

Or if one already exists, provide a link in the comment section.

In the meantime, the press release...

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. - Veteran program executive Pearlena Igbokwe has been named Executive Vice President, Drama Development for NBC Entertainment, it was announced today by Jennifer Salke, President of NBC Entertainment, to whom Igbokwe will report. She is replacing Laura Lancaster who will segue into a consultancy role to help with the transition through drama development season.

In her new role Igbokwe will oversee the development of all NBC dramas.

“Pearlena has forged an impressive track record over her successful career that has earned her the admiration of the creative community,” said Salke. “She will bring a unique perspective to development that will help us reach our goal of once again making NBC the home of some of the best and most respected dramas on television.”

Igbokwe comes to NBC from Showtime, where she worked closely with Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, for seven years.

“Pearlena is hands-down one of the best creative executives I’ve ever worked with and I’m thrilled she is coming to NBC,” said Greenblatt. “She will be instrumental in reinvigorating our drama slate and making the network a haven for the top creative people in our business.”

During her 20-year tenure at Showtime, Igbokwe was involved in developing the pilot and overseeing every season of “Dexter,” Showtime’s most popular hit ever. She also developed the pilot to the upcoming new Showtime series “Masters of Sex” starring Michael Sheen. She also supervised the Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed original series “Nurse Jackie” and “The Big C,” as well as shepherded “Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union,” “Damon Wayans’ Underground,” Kirstie Alley’s “Fat Actress,” and the television adaptation of the hit feature film “Barbershop.” She was additionally instrumental in the five-season run of the hit Showtime series “Soul Food,” a two-time NAACP Image Award winner for Best Drama Series.

Igbokwe also has mined success from a number of original movies she developed for Showtime, including the Humanitas Award-nominated “Jasper, Texas,” starring Academy Award winners Jon Voight and Louis Gossett Jr.; the Emmy Award-nominated “Bojangles,” starring the late Gregory Hines; and the Peabody Award-winning “Strange Justice,” to name just a few.

She began her career at Showtime as Manager of Direct Response, Television Marketing, where she was responsible for all media planning and spending, agency creative development, video production and telemarketing for a $13 million general and Hispanic market acquisition campaign.

Igbokwe most recently was featured in industry trade magazine Multichannel News’ 2010 “Wonder Women” issue and previously in Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 35 under 35,” as well as in Ebony and Black Enterprise’s “Top 50 Showbiz Players.”

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  • Mary | May 22, 2014 12:03 PMReply

    Canceling "Dracula" was a big mistake. You could have moved it to another night instead of having three (3) "cult" shows on one night. I watched "Hannibal" once or twice but it was not worth watching beyond that. And "Grimm" is just really awful. What will it take to get you guys to reverse your decision? The head of ABC Daytime television canceled "One Life To Live" in 2011 and now the 3 main characters all appear on "General Hospital" because fans of OLTL put up a fuss with ABC. Phone calls and letter writing let ABC know that we did not approve of what they did. ABC had to make room for Katie Couric; and now after 2 seasons, she leaving again, making ABC look so dumb. We don't want NBC to look dumb. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is quite an actor. He is a young Gary Oldman. Reconsider NBC are always be labeled the #3 network.

  • Mary | May 22, 2014 12:10 PM

    Your Comment Reconsider, NBC, or always be labeled the #3 network. I can remember in the blockbuster ratings war when CBS had "Gunsmoke", NBC had "Bonanza" and ABC had "The Big Valley". If CBS can bring back "Hawaii Five-O" and make it a competitor, NBC could bring back "In The Heat Of The Night". It would take awhile to get a good cast available, that's why you can count on a winner with "Dracula"!!! The cast consisted of all classy actors.

  • michaud-jacqueline | December 20, 2013 12:22 PMReply


  • Winston | October 10, 2013 1:39 PMReply

    It's been over a year-- what now? Are we seeing any changes at NBC?

  • joe braxton | July 30, 2012 1:39 AMReply

    As opposed to the job being given to a black man? When is it ever? Black men are in a crisis but whatever, this black woman of "Power" (given to her by whites) has risen up and is now at NBC. Oh my what an accomplishment! I am sure that as a result of a 'black woman' being head smegg at NBC we can look forward to even fewer black males on tv and far more degrading stories of black men. Yup, You Go Girl! It's all about success, ie = $$$. Yup, she sho is "successful". Perhaps focus can be given one day to people who are not on tv or corporate capitalist lackys. People who invest in their communities and risk their lives to help others. These are the BLACK MEN and women that we never hear about. But so many black american people are quick to jump at the chance to praise low life's like Obama and other irresponsible capitalist nothings. Where were these people when Troy Davis was assassinated? So many of you expect this woman to 'help' black people. Yes, she has helped herself to $$$ all on behalf of idiots like you lot. Who worship these women who hate black men and fill quotas insuring that no black men will be hired. Being black and a woman fills to slots. Thus the reason why black men are kept out. I hate this country so much.

  • juliB | July 15, 2012 7:17 PMReply

    Why is everyone so concerned with "what she's going to do for black people?" These are the same comments people were making when Obama got elected; "How's he going to make things better for black people?" I am proud that a black female has risen to this level and I wish her the best. Her job is not to please black people. However, I'm sure she will do what she can to bring diversity, but I don't think she'll compromise her position to do it. This fall on NBC Meagan Good will be in a lead role, so there you go, diversity! We should be supporting this woman and not criticizing her. If we don't appreciate our own people, how can we expect others (whites) to do the same?

  • Stars | July 12, 2012 8:08 PMReply

    It will only make a difference if she is NOT there in that position just taking care of "white folks" business.

  • Cool | July 11, 2012 10:49 PMReply

    The New Head Of Drama Programming At NBC Is A Black Woman. Ok what kind of title is that. Its cool to just recognize that we have folks in higher up places in the industry however we need to acknowledge the fact that because she is black that she has a job to do. That title puts her on blast like all the folks on this post are about to send her a script And james brown can see that with her name alone that she is a black women so no use in stating the obvious. How would you feel if some wrote an article that the head of shadow and act writer on indwire is a black man. Ok your name and the fact that you write for a black post would suggest that so no need to state the obvious. I understand the intent however I don't agree with it because it suggest that we black folk should hold her accountable and thats not right when we don't pay her bills.

  • Jim Parker | July 11, 2012 4:27 PMReply

    What does her being black have to do with her new job. Are you saying she got the job because she's black and if you dont know what that means why would you even say it. Dont understand? Hopfully she got the job because she was the most quilafied.

  • Jim Parker | July 20, 2012 11:49 PM

    I am glade for her. But not because the color of her skin.
    Congratulations to her. Great job.

  • JMac | July 11, 2012 7:41 PM

    Or maybe they're saying she's a black woman because she's a black woman. And that there aren't too many blacks and not that many females in those types of positions so it's something to be happy about.

  • Melissa | July 11, 2012 1:24 PMReply

    Congratulations to her! I'd heard of her before when I was also doing research on top black power women. And big ups to Naija ;)

  • Anthony A. | July 11, 2012 6:59 AMReply

    Igbo Kwenu!

  • other song | July 12, 2012 2:05 PM


  • g.g. | July 10, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    People said the same thing about Head of SKY Drama UK Anne Mensah. I have seen such an improvement in the pool of actors and the people involved in the production since she headed the table. I spoke with her once, and she made it very clear she didn't suffer any fools - she just made sure everyone stood/stands a level playing ground regardless of their race.

    Congrats to Pearlena Igbokwe.

  • FilmGuy | July 10, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    Let's understand this: she is there to do a job, one which has a format already in place. You cannot expect her to diversify programming or do anything outside the format that the network mandates. What we can celebrate is seeing a not only a person of color, but a woman of color reaching such an important position in a major network. I hope she inspires others to strive for their goals.

  • Eddie Williams | July 10, 2012 7:39 PMReply

    Congratulations! We are pulling for you and us!

  • real deal hollyfield | July 10, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    Its like when Obama became president we put pressure on these folks out the gate without understanding that they have a job to do first. Let her do her and if you shit is good she will take notice and if not don't be mad.

  • Agent K | July 10, 2012 6:29 PMReply

    I expect more of the same but I'll see what happens.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 10, 2012 5:22 PMReply

    Instead of speculating, I'll just watch and see what she actually does -- then make a judgment.

  • dl | July 10, 2012 5:00 PMReply

    im happy for her but this doesnt mean anything for african americns in terms of overall visability in the media or individual sucess because she is nigerian.

  • other song | July 10, 2012 11:46 PM

    DL, that's a silly comment. You really think she's going to push the "Nigerian agenda" (wtf that means) over greenlighting diverse content that speaks to minorites and Black Americans in particular? in the US of A? LMAO. get outta here!

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 10, 2012 5:21 PM

    What does her Nigerian heritage have to do with it?

  • Marquis Smalls | July 10, 2012 3:41 PMReply

    Congratulations to Pearlena!!!

  • jay miller | July 10, 2012 2:59 PMReply

    It won't mean anything for black people. She's one of them, not one of us.

  • turner | July 10, 2012 7:09 PM

    Man! Can you even see the forest of sour grapes you've got going on?

  • To explain | July 10, 2012 3:13 PM

    A very unfair statement. Have you two worked together before? While yes she will will be working at the very corporate NBC, I will expect to see a diversity of talent (in front/behind) and stories.

  • No | July 10, 2012 2:39 PMReply

    This is interesting...Could this finally mean an opening up of dramas from the diverse pool of stories in America? Or will she have to adhere to standard practices and procedures?

  • Ghost | July 12, 2012 6:09 PM

    I doubt it. Because Fox (animation side) and Nickelodeon have blacks in charge of programming as well. Between the two of them-we got the Cleveland Show and Keke Palmer in a lead role in a film. It's not going to make a difference but it does encourage more of us to present our ideas to that network.

  • Imhotep Coleman | July 10, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    Congrats to Pearline. Savvy and sincere sista.
    Well deserved.

  • eshowoman | July 10, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    So she was able to create only black drama on pay cable. I don't see her bringing any diversity to NBC which is basically all caucasian.

  • Imhotep Coleman | July 10, 2012 2:54 PM

    I know of plenty of diversity she is responsible for behind the scenes.

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