The tech giant made headlines Thursday with plans to layoff as many as 18,000 employees following its recent $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's phones business. Industry sources say that newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella is taking a hard look at all of the company's operations and is questioning the plan to produce a broad slate of original series for Xbox platforms.
Microsoft recruited former CBS exec Nancy Tellem (pictured) in the fall of 2012 to lead the Santa Monica-based Xbox Studios division, which was tasked with developing programming based in part on Microsoft vidgame properties such as "Halo." Sources say Nadella is looking to focus the company's resources and energies into its core software, Internet and vidgame businesses.
It's unclear what the shift will mean for Tellem's role at the company. "Halo," the first major project spearheaded by the division, is in advanced negotiations for a pickup at Showtime in a shared window with Xbox. That project, co-produced with Amblin TV, is expected to continue with Microsoft's backing along with a handful of other projects that are far along in the production or development process.
Those include the "Halo" prequel story "Nightfall," exec produced by Ridley Scott, and the docu "Signal to Noise," about the notorious Atara "E.T" game flop in the early 1980s. Xbox Studios also produces elaborate companion material for NFL games and other "entertainment experience" apps for Xbox, and that work is expected to continue.
But the slate of development prospects laid out by Tellem at the NewFronts in May is expected to be significantly trimmed as part of the new mandate from Nadella, a 24-year company vet who was appointed CEO succeeding Steve Ballmer in February.
A rep for Xbox Studios declined to comment.
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