There’s change on the high seas of Banijay.
Julie Pizzi, President of fellow Banijay-backed firm Bunim/Murray, will add overseeing 51 Minds to her responsibilities running the Real World producer.
It is the latest change for the group; earlier this year, Cris Abrego, who founded 51 Minds, stepped down as CEO of Banijay Americas with Ben Samek taking over that role and Abrego remaining as Chairman. There’s been much speculation about Abrego’s own role in recent months.
Sarabia has been with 51 Minds for many years, having produced series such as The Surreal Life and Flavor of Love. He took the reins at the company in 2014 after Abrego became one of the top execs at the-then titled Endemol North America and the departure of co-founder Mark Cronin.
He has overseen shows such as Below Deck, which has spawned multiple spinoffs including Below Deck: Mediterranean, Below Deck: Sailing Yacht, and Below Deck: Down Under as well as Netflix series Marriage or Mortgage and Hack My Home and Hulu’s Drive With Swizz Beatz.
Pizzi, meanwhile, was named President of Bunim/Murray in 2021, having worked off and on for a number of years. Recently, her company has made series such as CBS’ Buddy Games and Paramount+’s The Family Stallone as well as the first season of Amazon’s Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls.
“51 Minds has been my home for two decades, and the decision to leave was not an easy one. While I will truly miss the extraordinary team that makes it such an incredibly creative and vibrant place, I look forward to building something new in my next chapter and continuing to contribute to the pop culture landscape,” said Sarabia. “When I shared my plans with Ben, his support was resounding. I am grateful to him and to Banijay and am thrilled to see Julie, a brilliant leader and colleague, take the reins of a company that has meant so much to me.”
“I’d like to thank Christian for everything he’s given to 51 Minds Entertainment, especially across the last decade as its President, and wish him tremendous success as he sets course on his next adventure,” said Samek. “Julie Pizzi is one of the most successful and prolific executives in the industry and a powerful storyteller. She has been extraordinarily impactful as President of BMP, and I’m so pleased she’s agreed to add 51 Minds to her oversight.”
“51 Minds has such an incredible history of producing content that breaks through the clutter and stands out in a way that must be watched, from its early days that saw series such as Surreal Life enter the zeitgeist to the Below Deck franchises of today,” said Pizzi. “I’m thrilled to be entrusted with taking the reins from Christian and taking on the challenge of leading 51 Minds into the future.”