Universal International Studios’ London-Based Studio Head David O’Donoghue to Depart After 15 Years (EXCLUSIVE)
Long-time Universal executive David O’Donoghue is stepping down from his role as the London-based head of studio for Universal International Studios, Variety can reveal.
The executive was promoted to the role in March 2022, reporting into former Hulu executive Beatrice Springborn, who was at the same time appointed president of UCP and UIS.
O’Donoghue was previously executive VP of business affairs and operations for UIS. He was upped to acting head of studio at UIS in September 2020, overseeing international operations following the surprise exit of Jeff Wachtel, and remained in the role until last March.
While working as senior leadership at UIS, O’Donoghue also served as joint managing director and chief operating officer for “Downtown Abbey” producer Carnival Films, which many consider to be one of the crown jewels in the UIS production portfolio, alongside Working Title.
Under Springborn and O’Donoghue’s leadership, UIS has delivered the critically acclaimed and award-winning comedy “We Are Lady Parts” for Channel 4 and Peacock, “Everything I Know About Love” for the BBC and “Parallels” for Disney+.
In a memo to staff on Thursday, Universal Studio Group chairman Pearlena Igbokwe announced O’Donoghue’s exit and acknowledged his 15-year tenure with Universal, first at “Downton Abbey” producer Carnival Films, and then at Universal International Studios.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to DoD for his partnership and 15-year commitment to the growth and success of UIS,” said Igbokwe. “Under his leadership, UIS has continued its push to becoming a best-in-class studio, with a proven track record of amplifying a diverse slate of ambitious storytellers, and we are well-positioned to expand the Universal brand because of it.”
UIS rebranded from NBCUniversal International Studios in November 2021 to further align with the Universal Studio Group and sister studios UCP, Universal Television and Universal Television Alternative Studio.
The company hired former Netflix international executive Tesha Crawford earlier this month to serve as senior VP of scripted global series, based out of London.
Read Igbokwe’s full memo below:
What makes Universal International Studios so special are the people and projects that power it. I am constantly inspired by your focus on collaborative culture, your creative intuition and your ability to foster some of the world’s best storytellers. It’s because of you that we have a bright future to look forward to here at UIS.
As you may have heard David O’Donoghue — fondly referred to by all of us as DoD — has decided to leave his position as Head of Studio. I want to express my sincere gratitude to DoD for his partnership and 15-year commitment to the growth and success of UIS. Under his leadership, UIS has continued its push to becoming a best-in-class studio, with a proven track record of amplifying a diverse slate of ambitious storytellers, and we are well-positioned to expand the Universal brand because of it.
Looking ahead to our future in ‘23 and into ‘24, the growth and expansion of UIS will be key to the success of USG as a whole, and we have an incredible roadmap in place to get there.
Please join me in wishing DoD well on his next chapter, and should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to me, your manager or HR team.
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