Nancy Tellem

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Nancy Tellem
Born (1952-12-13) December 13, 1952 (age 66)
Alma materUniversity of California Berkeley
University of California Hastings College of the Law
OccupationEntertainment executive
Arn Tellem (m. 1979)

Nancy Tellem (born December 13, 1952) is the chief media officer and executive chairwoman of Eko (formerly Interlude (interactive video)), a start-up focused on interactive music videos.[1] She is the onetime entertainment and digital media president of Microsoft[2] and an ex-president of CBS Television Studios, formerly CBS Paramount Television.

Legal/TV Career[edit]

Tellem was born to a Jewish family in Danville, California, the daughter of an anesthesiologist mother and surgeon father. Her parents were Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.[3][4] Tellem got hooked on TV as a child through fan magazines that the networks used to mail out during the summer to promote new shows.[5] As an undergraduate at the University of California Berkeley, she interned one summer for Congressman Ron Dellums (D-Calif.) on Capitol Hill and met her future husband, Arn Tellem.[6] After earning a JD from the University of California Hastings College of the Law,[7][8] she practiced law for four years in Los Angeles. Among her first jobs was chasing down people who claimed to be heirs to Howard Hughes's estate. Tellem then jumped to entertainment, working initially as the legal expert on famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey's short-lived 1982 show Lie Detector. Eventually she would end up working for Merv Griffin on his Wheel of Fortune show before moving to Lorimar Television, where she was in the legal affairs department.[9]

Warner Bros. and CBS[edit]

When Lorimar merged with Warner Bros. television, Leslie Moonves became head of WB. In 1987, he promoted Tellem to Executive Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs. When Moonves became head of CBS Entertainment in 1995, he appointed Tellem the network's Executive Vice President of Business Affairs, and, later, head of CBS Productions, the unit responsible for producing original series for the network.

In 1998, Moonves became the president of CBS, and named Tellem his successor.[10] That year Tellem ascended to the presidency of CBS Entertainment, where she oversaw programming, development, production, business affairs and network operations. She was responsible for deciding which shows appeared on CBS, supervised the prime-time, daytime, late-night and Saturday morning lineup on both CBS and The CW Television Network - the merged network of The WB and UPN - including shows like CSI, Survivor, Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens, and helped create the landmark shows Friends and ER. In 2010, she stepped down as president, and took on a new role as a senior advisor to Moonves.[11]

Tellem was the second woman in television history, after ABC's Jamie Tarses, to hold the top entertainment post at a major broadcast network. In 2003, she was named the third most powerful woman in entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter.[12] From 2006 through 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Tellem 75th, 49th and 32nd, respectively, on its annual list of the 100 Most Powerful Women.[13][14][15] She placed third on Entertainment Weekly's 2008 list of the 25 smartest people in TV for restoring CBS’s entire prime-time line-up quickly after the 100-day writers’ strike.[16]


In June, 2012, reports surfaced that Microsoft was looking to hire Tellem to head the software giant’s entertainment division, which included Zune and the company’s Xbox and Xbox Live products.[17] In September, 2012, Tellem joined the company as entertainment and digital media president, and set about putting together a team to develop series that would be available exclusively through the Xbox platform.[18] She left the company when the studio shut down in October, 2014.


In April, 2015, Tellem became executive chairman and chief media officer of Interlude, a technology company and creator of interactive music videos. Tellem had been an advisor and investor in the company, and had joined its board of directors in 2014.[19]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2006, Tellem was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, in recognition of her contributions to the electronic arts.[20] Two years later she received a National Association of Television Program Executives' Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, which recognizes television professionals who exhibit extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision in the process of creating TV programming.[21]


Tellem is married to former sports agent Arn Tellem, the vice chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Detroit Pistons.[22] The couple has three sons: Michael, Matthew and Eric.[23]


  1. ^ "Former Microsoft Executive Nancy Tellem to Join Interlude Start-Up", The New York Times, April 22, 2015
  2. ^ "Nancy Tellem Out at Microsoft as Xbox Entertainment Studios Shuts Down" The Hollywood Reporter, Oct. 29, 2014
  3. ^ "Prime Time for Hitler: CBS goes ahead with its biopic plans, but skeptics warn it had better step carefully.", Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, August 1, 2002.
  4. ^ "A miniseries on the young Hitler", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 30, 1999
  5. ^ Nancy Tellem Discussing Stepping Down At CBS; Will Les Cope?, Deadline Hollywood, October 6, 2009
  6. ^ "The Arn Of The Deal", Sports Illustrated, May 27, 2002
  7. ^ "Thinkers & Doers: Nancy Tellem". U.C. Hastings College of Law. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Nancy Reiss Tellem". Seeds of Peace. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  9. ^ "The Prime (Time) Of Nancy Tellem", Businessweek, May 29, 2006
  10. ^ CBS Fills President's Post At Entertainment Division, New York Times, August 18, 1998
  11. ^ Nancy Tellem changing jobs at CBS, Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2009
  12. ^ "Nancy Tellem, Television Executive", She Made It, Paley Center for Media (accessed April 23, 2012)
  13. ^ Nancy Tellem, No. 75, President CBS Paramount Television Entertainment Group
  14. ^ Nancy Tellem, No. 49, President CBS Paramount Television Entertainment, CBS Corp.
  15. ^ Nancy Tellem, No. 32, President CBS Paramount Television Entertainment Group
  16. ^ Entertainment Weekly dubs Seth MacFarlane the smartest guy in TV, Boston Herald, December 4, 2008
  17. ^ "Why Microsoft is going after CBS' Nancy Tellem", Forbes, June 26, 2012
  18. ^ "Microsoft Brings In Former CBS Exec Nancy Tellem To Launch New Xbox Studio", LTG, September 19, 2012
  19. ^ "Nancy Tellem Joins Interactive Video Firm Interlude", Variety, April 22, 2015.
  20. ^ "Television Hall of Fame", C-SPAN, Oct. 23, 2006
  21. ^ Legacy Award Honorees for 2008, NATPE, 2008
  22. ^ Arn Tellem, "Why I'm Making The Jump From Sports Agent To Front Office" Sports Illustrated June 5, 2015
  23. ^ "Nancy Tellem", Encyclopedia of World Biography

External links[edit]