Sharon Levy is on a roll. For two years in a row, Endemol Shine North America — where Levy serves as president of unscripted and scripted programming — has been a part of the top-rated new show in primetime.
This year, it’s “Lego Masters,” which is averaging a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49 in Live+7 ratings. Last year, it was “The Masked Singer,” the top-rated reality show of the last seven years. (Both shows air on Fox; Endemol Shine is no longer involved in “Masked Singer.”) Besides “Lego Masters,” in recent weeks Endemol Shine has also produced revivals of two major unscripted franchises: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for HGTV and “The Biggest Loser” at USA.
“Overall it’s been a really rewarding two years,” said Levy, who arrived at Endemol Shine in 2017 after 12 years at Spike TV (which was later morphed into Paramount Network).
Levy had been head of original series at Spike, where she developed hits such as “Ink Master,” “Bar Rescue” and “Deadliest Warrior,” as well as scripted fare such as “Waco.” Before that, she was a producer and executive at Stone Stanley (“The Mole”), but having been a buyer for so long at Spike, “I gad to get my seller’s sea legs back,” she said. “I had to get used to driving all over town. So that’s the sign of a good success. It’s been rewarding, to get out and collaborate with so many different types of people, from the networks to the platforms, and my own team.”
Endemol Shine Americas chairman/Endemol Shine North America CEO Cris Abrego said Levy’s experience as a buyer gives the company “an added strength when we are developing shows. She knows that it’s not one size fits all, so she takes the time to tailor each pitch for each buyer and what their needs may be.”
Abrego also cited Levy’s “true passion for television… Now a week doesn’t go by without Sharon recommending a new show to me.”
Globally, Endemol Shine owns production shingles that are behind scripted hits such as “Black Mirror,” “Broadchurch” and “Peaky Blinders,” and Levy has been charged with getting Endemol Shine North America back into the scripted drama game. That includes a new take on “Utopia,” based on the original U.K. series that aired on Channel 4.
For the this adaptation, being produced for Amazon Prime, Gillian Flynn is writing and producing the graphic novel thriller, starring John Cusack, Rainn Wilson and Sasha Lane.
Showtime ordered another Endemol Shine North America project, “Ripley,” straight to series. Based on the “Ripley” novels by Patricia Highsmith, Steve Zaillian is attached to write and direct the first season, starring Andrew Scott.
And under Levy, the division is also developing a take on the Endemol Shine Israel series “Queens,” with Gal Gadot and her husband.
One misstep: Fox’s “Almost Family,” based on the Endemol Shine Australia format “Sisters.” The show was recently canceled by Fox; that news coincided with a BuzzFeed News report alleging that star Timothy Hutton assaulted a 14-year-old girl in 1983.
In the reality space, Fox took over production of “The Masked Singer” after its first season, but Levy is bullish on how that show helped reignite interest in the genre. Beyond the launches of “Lego Masters,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “The Biggest Loser,” the studio is also behind staples “Big Brother” and “MasterChef”; she also helped launch “Family Food Fight” last year on ABC.
“There’s more opportunity than ever and many of those places have a high appetite for quality unscripted programming,” Levy said. “I think if you’re someone who can innovate and are a great storyteller, you will have no shortage of places to do this in.”
In 2019, Endemol Shine North America sold more than a dozen unscripted and scripted series under Levy; other outlets the studio has worked with include Disney+, Apple+, Quibi, Netflix and NBC.
“It’s like being a television anthropologist,” Levy said. “We get to parachute into these different cultures and take a look at what’s happening. It’s never boring — I love that about the job. I love the fact that I get to do both nonscripted and scripted. Both are incredibly important to me. And it keeps your mind really fresh in both genres. You get to bring what you learn in one to the other and vice versa…. . It’s been very hectic, very busy, and of course always fraught with its ups and downs. But overall it’s been a really rewarding two years.”