The promotion of Cecile Frot-Coutaz from chief executive of FremantleMedia North America to CEO of parent company FremantleMedia leaves a big hole to fill at the production company behind musical talent shows "American Idol," "The X Factor" and "America's Talent."
Frot-Coutaz, who will relocate to Fremantle's London headquarters to succeed Tony Cohen, plays a large behind-the-scenes role in the creative and business operations of Fox's "American Idol" and "The X Factor" and NBC's "America's Got Talent." Fremantle parent company RTL Group said Cohen is leaving to "focus on his non-executive work."
No replacement for Frot-Coutaz in the United States has been named. Donna Redier Linsk is Fremantle North America's chief operating officer and the No. 2 executive there. She joined in 2009 from Fox Broadcasting, where she was a senior vice president of business affairs and alternative production.
Known for being direct, Frot-Coutaz has been instrumental in making Fremantle a force in the United States. She also isn't shy about speaking her mind in public on occasion. This year at a television programming convention, she poked at Simon Cowell's prediction that "The X Factor" would be bigger than "American Idol."
"Simon lives on a Simon planet, and that planet is a very ambitious one," she said. "Anyone who achieves that level of success walks a fine line between genius and a little bit of craziness."
One of Frot-Coutaz's priorities over the last few months has been lining up new judges to join Cowell on "The X Factor." Of the other judges from Season 1, only L.A. Reid remains: Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were both released. Pop sensation Britney Spears is on Fremantle's wish list to join the program.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Cecile Frot-Coutaz. Credit: Fremantle