Net Execs, Stars Find a Pilgrim Partner

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Pilgrim studios, under the leadership of veteran producer Craig Piligian, currently produces more than 50 unscripted and scripted series across nearly 30 networks. TV programming executives, along with the talent who’ve worked with Piligian over the years, say that the 58-year-old producer’s professional approach to his work as well as his determination to produce quality programming is unparalleled in the industry and worthy of Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable’s Producer of the Year award.

“Craig is a leader and innovator ... he has a proven track record that transcends all genres including movies, scripted, lifestyle, sports and docs,” said Nancy Dubuc, President & CEO of A+E Networks, which just last week launched a Piligian-produced talk show Kocktails With Khloé, on its FYI channel. “He built a company that cultivated some of the biggest hits and franchises in media. His vision will have a lasting impact on pop culture for years to come,” she added.

Khloé herself chimed in on Piligian, saying that the producer was more like a partner than a boss while working with him on Kocktails With Khloé, which stars the famous Kardashian reality star as she talks with celebrity guests within an intimate home setting.

“I have had the pleasure of getting to work with and learn from this respected businessman from inception to actually having episodes air,” Kardashian said. “With his impressive track record of creating enduring unscripted series, there is no one more deserving of the title ‘Producer of the Year.’”

Some of Pilgrim’s most iconic shows have appeared on Discovery Channel. Denise Contis, executive vice president of production and development for Discovery Channel and an executive producer on Pilgrim street-racing series Street Outlaws (which has a spinoff series, Street Outlaws: New Orleans, launching on Discovery on Feb. 22), said: “Craig Piligian is one of the masters of the reality format for television. He has produced some of Discovery’s most-iconic series, from Dirty Jobs and American Chopper to Fast N’ Loud, an anchor of the network’s “Motor Monday” lineup and one of the most-watched shows on all of cable. Craig is always looking for new ways to produce and showcase quality content. We saw this quality in storytelling in Street Outlaws, another breakout hit for the network. These are just some of the many reasons we love working with Craig. And we look forward to many more projects to come.”

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Speaking of Fast N’ Loud, show star Richard Rawlings, the founder of Dallas, Texas’s Gas Monkey Garage and star of the show now airing new season- eight episodes, said: “Craig Piligian is a visionary in the industry and Pilgrim Studios was my only consideration as the production company for Gas Monkey Garage. Fast N’ Loud has been a wild ride and we are blessed to have Craig and Pilgrim on our side. When I was considering production companies I wanted the best and Pilgrim was it. It took three years but Craig stayed on it and got it done. Now we are approaching our 100th episode, thanks to Craig and Pilgrim studios. Next stop: 200th episode!”

Piligian has scored in the sports arena as well, producing FS1’s The Ultimate Fighter reality competition event, featuring mixed martial arts fighters from the Ultimate Fighting Championship MMA franchise. UFC executive vice president of operations and production Craig Borsari said Piligian’s forward thinking approach and his ability to bring compelling programming to light has helped The Ultimate Fighter remain successful over its 22-season run. FS1 will launch season 23 of the series this April. “Craig has done a tremendous job serving as executive producer of The Ultimate Fighter since its debut in 2005,” Borsari said. “Craig and his team have been instrumental in helping build the Ultimate Fighter brand.”

Piligian’s reach has even touched the scripted genre with tonight’s (Jan. 25) launch of drama Recovery Road, which airs on Freeform (formerly ABC Family). Freeform executive vice president of programming and development Karey Burke said the network is excited about showcasing Piligian’s first foray into the scripted world in Recovery Road, which follows a young teen’s plight in fighting alcoholism. “We were thrilled to be the home of Craig and Pilgrim’s first scripted series, and especially as it is one we are so proud of,” Burke said. “Here’s hoping we are making television together at Freeform for a long time to come.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.