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CBS President Kelly Kahl Exits Network, Amy Reisenbach Named Successor

Senior EVP of Programming Thom Sherman also announced an exit from his role at the company.

Kelly KahlTune In! Variety's TV Summit, Panel, Los Angeles, USA - 13 Jun 2018

Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president

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CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl will leave his position at the end of the year, IndieWire has confirmed. Amy Reisenbach was named his successor, the company announced Wednesday.

Kahl announced his departure in an internal email to staff, which IndieWire obtained. George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS, also sent a memo to staff confirming Kahl’s exit, referring to the move as part of a “restructuring and streamlining of leadership at CBS Entertainment.”

“It has been an absolute honor and privilege to work at CBS, America’s most watched network. (I’ll never get sick of hearing that.) I’ve lived a TV fan’s dream to work with the most talented writers, producers, and actors in television,” Kahl wrote in his email. “Most importantly, I’ve loved being in the trenches alongside all of you — the finest executives and employees in show business.”

Shortly after the announcement of Kahl’s exit, senior EVP of programming Thom Sherman also confirmed via email that he is also leaving his position. According to another company-wide memo from Cheeks, Sherman will continue to produce content for CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios as part of an overall company deal.

Reisenbach, who currently serves as CBS’ EVP of current programming, will effectively replace both Sherman and Kahl, with their responsibilities consolidated under her position. Reisenbach has worked at CBS since 2005, starting as manager of current programs for CBS Studios before being promoted to her current role in 2017. As EVP, Reisenbach oversaw the development of all CBS scripted series, CBS Daytime talk shows and game shows, and CBS Studios shows produced for other broadcast networks.

“I want to thank George, Kelly Kahl, David Stapf and Thom Sherman for being amazing bosses and colleagues, and supporting my growth path to this moment,” Reisenbach said in a statement. “This Network means so much to the people who work here, the writers and producers who call it home, and the viewers who fall in love with our series. I’m excited and proud to continue our tradition of excellence that everyone at this Network strives to exceed every day.”

Kahl is one of the most seasoned executives in the broadcast TV business, having worked at CBS for 26 years. He joined the company as VP of Scheduling in 1996 before being promoted to Senior EVP of CBS Primetime in 2005 and president in 2017.

During his tenure, CBS was the most-watched broadcast channel for 19 of the last 20 TV seasons — this fall, 17 of the 25 most-watched entertainment programs air on the channel. Kahl was responsible for several key scheduling decisions that helped the network grow, most prominently moving the channel’s hits “Survivor,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “CSI” to Thursdays to compete with NBC’s Must See TV block. Kahl also oversaw the schedule for The CW and served on the board of Pop.

“Kelly is without peer in the broadcast television business,” Cheeks wrote in his memo to staff. “He is the architect of primetime schedules that have made CBS #1 for 19 of the last 20 seasons. He is the masterful and fearless scheduler who moved SURVIVOR and CSI to Thursday, changing the landscape of that night after a decade of NBC dominance.”

Deadline first reported the news of Kahl’s departure from CBS. Read Kahl’s full memo below.

cbs friends,
the wondrous and improbable journey that started for me here 26 years ago has come to the finish line. i’ll be leaving CBS at the end of this year.

it has been an absolute honor and privilege to work at CBS, america’s most watched network. (i’ll never get sick of hearing that.) i’ve lived a TV fan’s dream to work with the most talented writers, producers, and actors in television. most importantly, i’ve loved being in the trenches alongside all of you — the finest executives and employees in show business. i want to thank every single person with whom i worked for your great efforts, creativity, and professionalism, all of which helped make this tremendous, pioneering network #1 for nearly 20 straight years. this place is special and so are its people.

i started here as a scheduler when we were in 3rd place and loved battling into 1st, but i’m especially proud of our accomplishments during my run as entertainment president over the past five years; we delivered tangible improvements in diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera, held our teams together and focused during the pandemic, and launched numerous hit series that maintained CBS #1 status.

i’ve been fortunate to develop strong friendships with many of you and will cherish memories of great adventures at upfronts, press tours, location shoots, final fours and super bowls. i hope and trust those bonds will continue going forward.

my very best to all of you. it’s been a magnificent ride and i’m excited to see what’s next. until then, i hope to see you at the underground…

i’m buying.

fondly

kelly

Read Cheek’s memo below:

Team – I want you to be aware of a significant transition that’s happening today. As part of a restructuring and streamlining of leadership at CBS Entertainment, Kelly Kahl, our esteemed colleague and president of the division, will be leaving CBS by the end of year.

Below is the note that Kelly sent to his team this morning. We’ll have more information about the new leadership structure very soon, but right now I really want to focus on Kelly and the incredible legacy he leaves at this network.

Kelly is without peer in the broadcast television business. He is the architect of primetime schedules that have made CBS #1 for 19 of the last 20 seasons. He is the masterful and fearless scheduler who moved SURVIVOR and CSI to Thursday, changing the landscape of that night after a decade of NBC dominance.

As Entertainment president, he introduced hit shows such as THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THE EQUALIZER, NCIS: HAWAI’I, three FBIs, FIRE COUNTRY and GHOSTS and has been the passionate steward of CBS’ hit reality franchises. More broadly, Kelly has been a fierce advocate for the vitality of broadcast television while being a steady and respected network leader through the good times as well as turbulent periods.

Without question, Kelly has dedicated the last 26 years to building CBS and leaves it positioned for even further success. He has been humble, gracious and generous with his peers every step of the way.

On a personal note, I want to thank Kelly for being a valued colleague and sounding board over the past two and a half years.

Please join me in heartily thanking Kelly for all of his contributions to CBS and in wishing him all the best in the future.

George

Read Sherman’s note below:

Team,

This morning’s news was a shock, and I know you’re all as saddened by it as I am. Kelly is the brother I never had, my friend, and the best work-partner I could ever have imagined. I am beyond thankful for his resolute leadership, guidance, collaboration, and humor, and it’s hard to fathom that he and I won’t be doing this together anymore.

And, alas, I too will be moving on to a new phase of my career next year.

It has been my distinct privilege to have worked with all of you these past 5 1/2 years. You are a remarkable group of immensely talented people, the best in the business at what you do, and I am extremely honored to have stood with you as season-after-season together we programmed America’s #1 Network.

Look at just a few of the many things we accomplished:

–We put together a slate of shows that is the envy of the Business with the #1 new drama on Broadcast 5 years running, and this year the top 3 new shows. We also launched the #1 new comedy 4 straight seasons, and now last year’s #1 hit, “Ghosts,” is fighting it out with one of our other great hits, “Young Sheldon,” for the #1 OVERALL Broadcast comedy slot. Powerful.

–CBS is now recognized for its diversity in front of, and behind, the camera; an incredible turnaround of which we should all be very proud.

–We worked hard to change the culture inside CBS to be more inclusive, welcoming, warm, fun, and (relatively!) stress-free. Tremendous progress achieved.

But more importantly than the above successes we shared, your talents are only outweighed by your KINDNESS. I am blessed to have worked with all of you really super exceptionally extraordinarily NICE and CARING people. I thank you all for helping create an inspiring and nurturing environment and for the dedication and brilliance with which you all do your jobs. I will carry you all in my heart as we continue our journeys, and I look forward to furthering our friendships.

Now go throw a Thom’s Tear up on the board.

And play well.

Thom

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