CBS reality executive Jen Bresnan out

Jen Bresnan, who’s been CBS’ executive in charge of its reality programming since 2008, is leaving her job. The news comes on Fox reality executive Mike Darnell’s official last day at that network.

The Hollywood Reporter says Bresnan will “step down from her day-to-day role in the department at the summer’s end, but will continue to consult on CBS’ unscripted series.” She’ll move back to New York, where her family lives. Deadline says her replacement will be Chris Castallo, who’s been Bresnan’s number-two.

She took over alternative programming at CBS a few months before production on Survivor Tocantins, and she was on location while I was there. Previously, Bresnan had a similar job at The CW, and before that, worked as a producer on shows including The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, The Swan, and the awesome Paradise Hotel. In a statement, Bresnan said,

“I am so grateful to Leslie Moonves and Nina Tassler for bringing me into the CBS family and for their remarkable support. It has been an incredible honor to work with the strongest reality brands in the business, and I have the deepest respect for my team and all the producers whose passion keeps these shows thriving. It’s easier stepping down when it’s not goodbye, just a different location, and I am very excited to begin a new chapter of my life on the East Coast.”

CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said in a statement, “Jen has been an outstanding leader of this department, with tremendous passion for the genre and creative energy for our shows. She launched the most successful new network reality show in years with Undercover Boss, and has worked closely with our producers to keep Survivor, The Amazing Race and Big Brother at the top of their game — three popular, long-running franchises that continue to play an important role in the network’s ratings leadership.”

Besides those big three, here’s a list of reality TV shows that aired during her tenure:

  • Got to Dance (2010)
  • Undercover Boss (2010)
  • Dogs in the City (2012)
  • 3 (2012)
  • The Job (2013)
  • The American Baking Competition (2013)

Update: CBS confirmed that it has promoted Chris Castallo to executive vice president of alternative programming. Entertainment President Nina Tassler said in a statement,

“Chris is a skilled executive who thinks like a programmer, producer and promoter all at once. He’s a terrific combination of a hands-on executive with a great vision for the genre, and we look forward to his leadership in this area.”

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Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.