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Xbox Entertainment Studios heads leave amid studio layoffs

Microsoft's attempt at establishing its own entertainment studio under the Xbox brand is no more. According to a report in Variety, Xbox Entertainment Studios head Nancy Tellem and her second in command, Jordan Levin, are no longer with the studio after the last remaining employees were let go this week.

The Xbox maker announced its plans to cut its entertainment studio, which was tasked with developing scripted and unscripted programming for Microsoft platforms, earlier this year. The cuts were part of a larger set of layoffs that would affect some 18,000 Microsoft employees.

According to Variety, Tellem and Levin were working to "salvage" some existing Xbox Entertainment Studios projects and planned to work at the studio through the end of the year. In August, Tellem and her studio were said to be in talks with other companies, including Warner Bros., in an attempt to bring in-development projects to other studios.

Tellem, pictured above with 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross, joined Microsoft in 2012. The former president of CBS Network Television Entertainment Group was named Microsoft's Entertainment and Digital Media president and originally reported to Phil Spencer, then head of Microsoft Studios, now head of Xbox.

Microsoft formed Xbox Entertainment Studios in 2012 to develop "true interactive content" for its platforms. Studio head Tellem and Yusuf Mehdi, then-corporate VP of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, unveiled XES' plans publicly in February of the following year.

"When I worked in traditional TV, we would find ourselves saying things like ‘Wouldn't it be cool if we could add an interactive aspect directly into the show and engage directly with the viewers?'" Tellem said at the time. "With Xbox, that is possible today."

In April of this year, Microsoft laid out its slate of in-development and proposed TV shows, which included scripted content like Halo and Humans, as well as non-scripted shows like Every Street United and Fearless. Xbox Entertainment Studios said it was exploring the possibility of content based on Xbox franchises like Gears of War, Fable, Forza and State of Decay.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios in a statement to Polygon.

"Yes, we can confirm that Xbox Entertainment Studios has closed as part of the companywide restructuring announced by Microsoft last July. Nancy and Jordan were key members and visionaries for the XES team, and we thank them for their leadership and many contributions."

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