Ccile Frot-Coutaz became the CEO of FremantleMedia worldwide, having formerly held the same post within the company's North America division. Although her responsibilities within this role were varied, she was best ... Read more »
Cécile Frot-Coutaz became the CEO of FremantleMedia worldwide, having formerly held the same post within the company's North America division. Although her responsibilities within this role were varied, she was best known as the executive producer of Simon Cowell's hit reality show "American Idol" and its follow-ups "America's Got Talent" and "The X-Factor."
Born in France and raised in the city of Lyon, Frot-Coutaz's relationship with American culture began at the age of eight when she moved to Bethesda, Maryland with her family for two years while her cancer research scientist father worked an exchange trip with the National Institutes of Health. It was during this American adventure that she would learn to speak English, although the only television series her father allowed her to watch was the then-popular U.K. comedy sketch series "The Benny Hill Show" (ITV 1955-1991).
This upbringing left her thinking of popular television entertainment as a forbidden pleasure. Frot-Coutaz knew she wished to excel in business from the age of sixteen. Accepted to the prestigious Insead business school, she was offered investment banking positions by both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley upon graduating with an MBA, but turned them both down.
Instead, she moved to London in 1994 to become a corporate strategist at the UK television arm of media multinational Pearson. Her boss at the time was Greg Dyke, who would later go on to become the Director General of the BBC. He mentored Frot-Coutaz as part of Pearson's mergers and acquisitions team during a period of growth for the company. The first major project she was involved with as a part of the M&A team at Pearson was the 1995 acquisition of Australian network Grundy Television, which produced the highly popular daytime soap opera "Neighbours" (1985- ), and the move resulted in a promotion for Frot-Coutaz to Corporate Strategy Executive. In 1998, she was one of the team went through the same process with the American Fremantle network, granting European access to shows including "The Price is Right" (CBS 1972- ), "Family Feud" (ABC, Syndication 1977- ) and "Baywatch" (NBC, Syndication 1989-1999).
By this time Frot-Coutaz was in the role of Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Southern Europe and Managing Director France. Her next major move took her to America at the turn of the new millennium, when Pearson was itself acquired by Bertelsmann's RTL Group and was renamed FremantleMedia. At first she settled in San Francisco working on online strategies, and then moved to Los Angeles to take on first the role of Executive Vice President, Commercial and Operations, then Chief Operating Officer of Production in 2002 and eventually Chief Executive Officer of FremantleMedia North America in 2005.
By this point Frot-Coutaz was overseeing more than six hundred hours of network, cable and syndicated programming, with her biggest success being the massive international reality show hit "American Idol" (Fox 2002- ), which she executive-produced alongside the show's creator Simon Fuller. The number one show in the U.S. for a record-breaking seven years, it inspired two further successful talent contest imports from the U.K., both fronted by judge Simon Cowell and both of which Frot-Coutaz was closely involved with: "America's Got Talent" (NBC 2006- )and "The X-Factor" (Fox 2011- ).
The demands of dealing with such huge successes based around an array of dominant media personalities accelerated Frot-Coutaz' standing in her professional world. In 2012, she was appointed the worldwide CEO of Fremantle's entire television operation, overseeing the creation of 9,200 hours of television in twenty-two countries and handling a turnover of over one billion dollars.