Netflix Hires Jeff Gaspin As VP Unscripted Series In Coup For Streamer

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has found its new unscripted chief.

The streamer has hired Jeff Gaspin as VP Unscripted Series after a search for a high-profile figure to lead its burgeoning reality business.

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It comes after Deadline revealed that Jenn Levy left the company last month and Brandon Riegg, who is VP Nonfiction Series, to whom Gaspin will report, started a search for top unscripted chief.

There were plenty of big unscripted names in the running for the position and Riegg is understood to have enquired about a number of execs overseeing unscripted for the broadcast networks and major studios.

Gaspin is a big get for Netflix given that he was previously Chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment from 2009-11.

However, his hire is less surprising considering he has been in business with Netflix and Riegg on a number of shows. He exec produced The Tinder Swindler, a true-crime series that was a big hit for the streamer, and also exec produces Rhythm + Flow, the hip-hop music competition that is coming back for a second season, four years after its debut.

Riegg’s search was the talk of the unscripted town and Gaspin’s name as one of the frontrunners emerged in the last two weeks. He will be based in LA.

Gaspin’s hiring will give Riegg, who also oversees Netflix’s booming sports-adjacent business as well as its documentary universe, the opportunity to look big picture while having a respected exec to take pitches and share the load on entertainment formats.

Most recently, Gaspin ran his own Gaspin Media, which also produced series including Showtime’s The First Lady. He had a two-year stint as President of Primary Wave Entertainment, which acquired Gaspin Media in 2016, but moved on in 2018 with an overall deal with AGC Television in 2018.

This marks a return to the executive ranks for Gaspin who spent almost two decades at NBCU, rising to chairman of NBC Universal TV Entertainment with oversight of a portfolio spanning 16 broadcast and cable networks before he exited after the Comcast merger in 2010.

During his tenure, he held the head of unscripted job at NBC where he developed Deal or No Deal, The Biggest Loser, Fear Factor and The Apprentice.

In another link to his new job at Netflix, Gaspin first made his mark as President of Bravo where he bought and launched two of the longest-running and influential reality series of the past two decades, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Project Runway, which are both still going.

A reboot of Queer Eye became Netflix’s first unscripted hit when it launched in 2018, helping the streamer establish a reality foothold that has led to a slew of other hits, including Love Is Blind and Selling Sunset. 

At NBCU, Gaspin also served as VP Programming and Development at NBC News, where he was involved in the development and launch of true crime staple Dateline NBC. Before that, he was head of programming at VH1 where he helped conceive Behind the Music. 

“Jeff is such a huge talent, with so much experience across unscripted and television in general, and I couldn’t be more excited that he’s joining us,” said Riegg. “From Rhythm & Flow to Tinder Swindler, he’s already been part of the Netflix family and we’re looking forward to continuing working with him and learning from him in this lively world of unscripted TV.”

“I feel a bit like Al Pacino in Godfather Part III: Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in,” said Gaspin. “I’m so thrilled to join Brandon and the unscripted team at Netflix. I was always most successful and happiest when I built or ran unscripted at VH1, Bravo and NBCU.  I can’t wait to do the same at Netflix.”

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