Julie McNamara Exits As Paramount+ Head Of Programming

EXCLUSIVE: Julie McNamara, EVP and Head of Programming for Paramount+, is leaving after 15 years at CBS and ViacomCBS.

One of the top programming executives at the combined company, McNamara has been overseeing the original content strategy for ViacomCBS’ streaming service. Tom Ryan, ViacomCBS’ President & CEO, Streaming, just announced McNamara’s exit internally, and she also shared the news with her staff.

“Julie’s work and strong relationships with creators and talent led the way for the very first originals on CBS All Access, many of which are still top performers for Paramount +, including Star Trek: Discovery and the beloved The Good Fight,” Ryan said. “Julie and her team have continued to grow the slate of originals paving the way for what has evolved to be an incredible upcoming line-up for Paramount +. I’d like to express my sincere thanks for Julie’s contribution to our streaming strategy.”

He noted that an announcement on Paramount+’s content structure will becoming in the coming weeks. (You can read both memos below)

McNamara, who oversaw drama development for CBS Studios and original content for Paramount+’s predecessor CBS All Access before taking the programming reins of Paramount+ when it was announced in early 2020, shepherded the platform’s inaugural original slate, which was unveiled at a star-studded presentation in February.

Over the last couple of years, McNamara, a respected development executive, was talked about for a number of top programming jobs at other companies and was reportedly approached about at least one or two but opted to remain at CBS where she is well liked and has close relationships with several fellow long-time executives, including CBS Studios President David Stapf.

With Paramount+ up and running and its programming slate set for the near future, I hear McNamara felt it was time to make a change. I hear the very private executive, who has stayed largely out of the limelight, had been quietly taking meetings in the past few weeks. According to sources, nothing is imminent, and McNamara may take some time off to ponder her next move but she will likely eventually be recruited for another high-profile job.

In her email to staff, McNamara called this “truly a bittersweet moment.”

“During my 15 years at the company, I’ve had the great fortune to participate in the birth and growth of multiple businesses. Working closely with my friend David Stapf, CBS Studios went from being a small boutique studio, to one of the most successful content suppliers in the world,” she wrote. “At CBS All Access, the introduction of our Original Series exponentially grew the subscriber base and profile of the platform, and set the stage for what’s to come. Now, Paramount+ is launched and poised to capitalize on the breadth and depth of talent across multiple brands, with series lined up by the incredible P+ creative team.”

The series McNamara spearheaded for Paramount+ include at The Offer: The Making of The Godfather, the new Kiefer Sutherland espionage drama, the comedy series Guilty Party starring Kate Beckinsale and The Game reboot.

During her tenure at CBS All Access, which she joined as EVP Original Content in 2016, she shepherded The Star Trek Universe (Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, and upcoming Strange New Worlds), The Good Fight, The Twilight Zone, Why Women Kill as well as The Comey Rule and The Man Who Fell to Earth (which subsequently landed at Showtime)

At CBS Studios, where she spent 10 years, most recently as EVP Drama Development, McNamara developed such long-running series as CBS’ Blue Bloods, Elementary, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-0, Madam Secretary, NCIS LA and NCIS: New Orleans and the CW’s Jane the Virgin

Before joining CBS Studios, McNamara was VP Drama Development at ABC, where she developed Alias, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy.

Here is Ryan’s internal email:

Team,

Sharing some team news this morning that Julie McNamara has decided to leave ViacomCBS. While Julie and I have only worked together for a short time, Julie has a long history of contributing to the content strategy across the company. Julie’s work and strong relationships with creators and talent led the way for the very first originals on CBS All Access, many of which are still top performers for Paramount +, including Star Trek: Discovery and the beloved The Good Fight. Julie and her team have continued to grow the slate of originals paving the way for what has evolved to be an incredible upcoming line-up for Paramount +. I’d like to express my sincere thanks for Julie’s contribution to our streaming strategy. I’m including Julie’s note to her team below.

Paramount + continues to be extremely well positioned in the market, fueled by an extensive line-up of content and our well known consumer brands. I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks on our content structure and look forward to sharing further details about how we will continue to bring the best content from across ViacomCBS to Paramount +.

Tom

And here is McNamara’s note:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I’m writing to share the news that I am leaving Paramount+. This is truly a bittersweet moment as I think about everything we’ve accomplished together, especially an amazing roster of prestigious and franchise shows that we can all be proud of.

During my 15 years at the company, I’ve had the great fortune to participate in the birth and growth of multiple businesses. Working closely with my friend David Stapf, CBS Studios went from being a small boutique studio, to one of the most successful content suppliers in the world. At CBS All Access, the introduction of our Original Series exponentially grew the subscriber base and profile of the platform, and set the stage for what’s to come. Now, Paramount+ is launched and poised to capitalize on the breadth and depth of talent across multiple brands, with series lined up by the incredible P+ creative team.

Through all the highs and lows (thankfully many more highs), it has been my privilege to work alongside you. Having been in the trenches with so many wonderful people across studio, network and digital, I’ve admired and learned from so many of you. Your drive, talent, warmth and integrity have made this journey a hugely gratifying one.

Thank you a thousand times over, and my heartfelt wishes for continued success.

Best,

Julie

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