UPDATED: CBS Studios has tapped Deborah Aquila to lead casting for both CBS Studios and Paramount Television Studios. The news comes after Meg Liberman announced her retirement as the head of casting for CBS Studios earlier on Wednesday.
In the new role, Aquila will report directly to PTVS president Nicole Clemens and CBS Studios president David Stapf. Both studios casting teams will report to Aquila. She will assume oversight of the combined department this spring following a transitional period with Liberman.
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Aquila has overseen casting at Paramount TV Studios since early 2020, where she led talent efforts on series such as “The Offer,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” as well as the upcoming “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” and “Fatal Attraction.”
Her resume includes the Academy Award-winning films “CODA” and “La La Land,” as well as “Sex, Lives and Videotape” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” On the TV side, she’s worked on both “Dexter” and “The Shield.”
She’s earned 18 Artios Award nominations and has won several awards for her work on “CODA,” “La La Land” and others.
On Wednesday, CBS Studios’ EVP of casting Meg Liberman announced she’ll be retiring from her role after 14 years at the studio in a memo to staff. She’s worked in entertainment for more than 40 years.
While at CBS Studios, she oversaw casting of more than 350 series and pilots across broadcast, streaming and cable, including “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight,” the “NCIS” and “Star Trek” franchises, “Dead to Me,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin.”
“As I look back on my 40-plus-year career in casting, I’ve decided that I’m ready to embark on my next adventure and will be retiring. While it’s never an easy decision to leave something you love, I am so proud of what we have accomplished together as a Studio,” reads Liberman’s note.
The executive added: “I have really loved the last 14 years I’ve spent at CBS Studios for two important reasons: the people and the projects. I have learned so much and it has been a privilege to work with such a truly talented and creative group of individuals, many of whom I consider friends for life.”
She began her career in 1976 while working for Marsha Kleinman and her mother, Pat Harris, casting series such as “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley.” Liberman went on to become a casting director for more than 100 famed and iconic series and movies, such as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Seinfeld,” “The Comeback,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Band of Brothers,” “Fame,” “From the Earth to the Moon,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Alf,” “That ‘70s Show,” “3rd Rock from the Sun” and more.
“There is so much to say about [Liberman] and the brilliant work she has done over her 40-plus-year career, but I think we would all agree that Meg is much more than a casting savant – she is an incredible human being,” said Stapf. “Her legacy at the Studio will forever be the incredible casts across the hundreds of shows, but also the outstanding colleagues she has nurtured, including those in her phenomenal department. Meg is a reminder to us all that the greatest influence and impact someone can have is to lead with integrity and kindness.”
Throughout the course of her 40-year career, she’s earned three Emmy wins out of 11 nominations and 56 Artios Award nominations from the Casting Society of America. She was also honored with the Casting Society’s Hoyt Bowers Award for her outstanding career achievements.
Read the notes from Liberman and Stapf in full below.
Dear CBS Studios Family,
As I look back on my 40-plus-year career in casting, I’ve decided that I’m ready to embark on my next adventure and will be retiring. While it’s never an easy decision to leave something you love, I am so proud of what we have accomplished together as a Studio.
My mother, Pat Harris, brought me into casting but it was her business partner, Marsha Kleinman, who inspired me to pursue it as a career. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I took to it so readily – it was in the genes. My first office was at Paramount Studios, where we were responsible for casting five series, including “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “CPO Sharkey” starring Don Rickles. During these years, I absorbed everything like a sponge and learned quickly how critical casting is to the success of a show.
It’s also where I learned how important mentorship is in this business, thanks to Marsha Kleinman, who was both tough and brilliant. She set the standard of excellence I have tried to uphold. I’m grateful to everyone who saw potential in me, as I have seen it in so many aspiring casting directors whom I have been fortunate to work with and nurture my whole career.
I have really loved the last 14 years I’ve spent at CBS Studios for two important reasons: the people and the projects. I have learned so much and it has been a privilege to work with such a truly talented and creative group of individuals, many of whom I consider friends for life.
I also want to thank David Stapf for not only being the best boss I could imagine, but an always available sounding board and a voice of reason. I’ve never seen him lose his sense of humor or his temper, and I’m thankful for his leadership, creative instincts and kindness.
And finally, I’m grateful to the talented studio casting professionals with whom I have worked these past 14 years. I’m so proud of the work we have done and the casts we’ve assembled. Some of my favorite projects include “Ghosts,” “The Good Fight,” “Unbelievable,” “Dead to Me,” “Jane the Virgin,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “American Vandal,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “The Comey Rules,” the “NCIS” and “Star Trek” franchises and the upcoming “King Shaka” and “Dinner with the Parents.” I know I am biased, but we have the best casting team in the business, and I expect that to continue long after I depart.
I will really miss you all, but am excited to change course and chill out, travel, indulge my love of art and explore all things that are not show business-related.
With love and thanks,
As you heard from her a short time ago, the incomparable Meg Liberman has made the decision to retire this season after 14 glorious years at the Studio. While more details are coming soon about the new casting department structure, I want to take this moment to celebrate Meg and her amazing legacy.
There is so much to say about her and the brilliant work she has done over her 40-plus-year career, but I think we would all agree that Meg is much more than a casting savant – she is an incredible human being. She is smart, passionate, generous and always unflappable – the epitome of grace under pressure. She cares deeply for her team, coworkers, producers, casting directors and all those who have the privilege to know her and be within her orbit. Meg is both bold and humble – a rare combination – especially for someone of her caliber who has assembled award-winning casts across more than 400 series and movies (and has a few Emmys of her own as well). Her creative instincts have always been second to none, and there’s been more than one occasion where she could have reminded me she was right, but didn’t. Her legacy at the Studio will forever be the incredible casts across the hundreds of shows, but also the outstanding colleagues she has nurtured, including those in her phenomenal department. Meg is a reminder to us all that the greatest influence and impact someone can have is to lead with integrity and kindness.
It has been a privilege and an honor to say I worked with the great Meg Liberman and I know many of you feel the same. While she will be missed, I know we’ll continue to champion the creative environment of passion, excellence, inclusivity, and caring mentorship she helped create and foster. Please join me in congratulating Meg on her amazing career and her next adventure.
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