[Update] Xbox Entertainment Studios’ Nancy Tellem, Jordan Levin Depart Microsoft

by Mike Futter on Oct 30, 2014 at 07:09 AM

Update: Microsoft has confirmed that Nancy Tellem and Jordan Levin are no longer with the company. The company provided a statement via email regarding Xbox Entertainment Studios and its projects.

"We can confirm that Xbox Entertainment Studios has closed as part of the companywide restructuring announced by Microsoft last July,” a company representative tells us. “Xbox remains committed to airing two of the documentaries produced by Lightbox – ‘Atari: Game Over’ and ‘The Thread’ (working title). Stay tuned for release dates and tune-in information for both films.” 

With regard to other projects, Microsoft confirms that it has abandoned those that did not enter development. “It did not make sense to continue developing shows that weren’t in active production, given timetables and the level of support required to guarantee a successful launch," the representative shared. However, the Halo television show is unaffected by this change. “Led by 343 Industries, “Halo: Nightfall” will be released this fall as part of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and the Halo television series remains on track. Neither project is impacted.”

Original Story:

Microsoft’s series of layoffs totaling 18,000 employees weren’t confined to the mobile phone division. The doomed Xbox Entertainment Studios was part of the cuts, with the program’s head Nancy Tellem let go earlier this week.

Variety reports on the layoffs, also citing that existing projects that remain unfinished are now abandoned. This contradicts statements made by the company in July that currently in-development initiatives would be seen through before disbanding the studio.

This seems to include the remainder of the Atari-focused Signal to Noise series. The first episode of the miniseries, about the E.T. cartridge excavation in New Mexico, is reportedly complete.

Variety reports that the rights to some of the works have reverted to their creators. Xbox Entertainment Studios is behind the Halo: Nightfall series and the Every Street United programming that ran during the World Cup.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to get more information on the status of ongoing projects and how the earlier than expected terminations of Nancy Tellem and Jordan Levin impact them. We’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: Variety]


Our Take
With Xbox Entertainment Studios already given a death sentence, this is simply a matter of timing. It’s possible that Tellem and her staff were able to wrap things up earlier than anticipated, though until and unless Microsoft responds we won’t know if this has impact beyond the closure announced earlier this year.