Veteran network and cable television executive Bela Bajaria was named Executive Vice President, Universal Television in August 2011. Her appointment as the head of the NBCUniversal-owned television production company began the re-establishment of the studio as a stand-alone entity after its creative programming division was folded into the NBC network in 2008.
Bajaria, who reports to Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment, oversees creative programming for one of the country’s largest and most successful television studios which is responsible for such hit series as “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “House,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Parenthood.” In addition, the studio produces such new series as “Smash,” “Grimm,” “Whitney,” “Up All Night,” “Bent” and “Best Friends Forever.”
Most recently, Bajaria held two key posts simultaneously: Senior Vice President, Cable Programming for CBS TV Studios, and Senior Vice President of Movies and Miniseries for the CBS network. Upon creating the cable division at CBS TV Studios in 2007, Bajaria shepherded many cable dramas and comedies from prolific writers and directors. Most recently, “Common Law,” written by Marianne Wibberley and Cormac Wibberley and directed by Jon Turteltaub, was picked up to series for USA Network. Other projects that were under Bajaria’s division include a docu-comedy for Showtime that was produced by award-winning showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron — and written and directed by Andrew Gurland (“The Virginity Hit”) — as well as the one-hour drama “Panic Boys,” written by Roberto Benabib, starring Anthony Edwards and Mark Ruffalo, also for Showtime.
While at CBS, Bajaria also worked on a varied slate of cable projects by notable writers such as Carol Mendelsohn, Julian Fellowes, Richard Shepard, Augusten Burroughs, Anthony Zuiker, Rick Cleveland and James Ellroy.
The first drama series out of her cable division was “The Cleaner,” starring Benjamin Bratt, which launched on the A&E Network as their first scripted show.
Bajaria simultaneously oversaw the CBS Sunday Night Movie — the #1 movie franchise on television for over 10 years — as Senior Vice President, Movies and Miniseries. She was responsible for the long-running, critically acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise and oversaw production of eight TV movies in the highly rated “Jesse Stone” franchise, starring Tom Selleck. In addition, Bajaria has worked on many multiple Emmy Award-nominated miniseries, including “Joan of Arc,” “Jesus,” “Reagans,” “Elvis” (produced by Greenblatt Janollari) and “Hitler.” She has overseen more than 130 movies that have showcased actors William Hurt, Anna Paquin, Sean Hayes, Anne Bancroft, Anjelica Huston, Mary Louise Parker, Christina Applegate, Keri Russell, Jessica Lange, Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon and many others.
Under Bajaria’s supervision, the long-form division tackled many topical subjects such as Enron but also secured highly competitive rights such as those of Elizabeth Smart and Amber Frey. Bajaria supervised the movie adaptations of many books by acclaimed, best-selling authors such as Larry McMurtry, John Grisham, James Patterson and Norman Mailer. She began working at CBS in 1996 in the movie department.
Bajaria began her career at First Serve Entertainment as a creative executive in charge of production, where she anchored, wrote and produced a weekly entertainment and news show on KSCI-TV Los Angeles. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications.