Banjiay Americas Names Bunim/Murray Boss President of ‘Below Deck’ Producer

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Bunim/Murray Productions boss Julie Pizzi has been named president of 51 Minds Entertainment, its sister production company under Banjiay Americas, amid the exit of Christian Sarabia after 10 years at the post.

Pizzi will add the studio to her purview while remaining atop Bunim/Murray, and continue to report directly to Banjiay Americas CEO Ben Samek. Sarabia will remain with 51 Minds in an advisory capacity during the transition.

Sources tell Variety Sarabia will soon be taking on a new venture shortly.

Pizzi began her career at Bunim/Murray in 1998, where she served as creative vice president and executive producer for six years on shows including “Road Rules” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge,” and “Born to Diva.” She exited the company in 2004 and spent a decade running her own unscripted company, PB&J Television, where she was co-president. Pizzi returned to BMP in 2015 to head up development and was elevated to president in 2021.

She currently oversees series including “Buddy Games” (CBS), “The Family Stallone” (Paramount+), “I Survived Bear Grylls” (TBS) and long-running Paramount franchise “The Challenge,” as well as Tubi’s reality film “Dead Hot” with Vanessa Hudgens.

“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,” Samek said. “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.”

During his 10 years as 51 Minds president, Sarabia has overseen the “Below Deck” franchise for Bravo, along with “T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle” (VH1), “The Grand Hustle” (BET), “Marriage or Mortgage” (Netflix), and “Hack My Home” (Netflix), among other titles.

His early hits include “The Surreal Life,” “Flavor of Love,” VH1’s “For the Love of Ray J” and CBS’ “Same Name.”

“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,” Pizzi said. “I’m thrilled to be entrusted with taking the reins from Christian and taking on the challenge of leading 51 Minds into the future.”

Sarabia added: “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. 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.”’

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