The Obamas’ Higher Ground Names Former Showtime Docs Chief Vinnie Malhotra As President

EXCLUSIVE: Vinnie Malhotra, who previously headed up documentaries at Showtime, is joining President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground.

Malhotra becomes President of the media company behind Crip Camp and Descendant.

It comes two months after Malhotra, who was EVP, Nonfiction Programming at Showtime, left the company amid a major restructure under Nina Diaz after it merged with MTV Entertainment Studios and became Paramount+ with Showtime.

Malhotra will report to President and Mrs. Obama and will lead the company’s film and TV division.

As part of the move, Tonia Davis, who was head of film and TV at the company, has been named Head of Motion Pictures and will oversee the company’s film development and production, including Netflix’s upcoming Rustin and Leave The World Behind.

Malhotra was widely considered one of the top documentary execs in the business, having joined Showtime in 2015. He has been responsible for and exec produced documentaries including We Need To Talk About Cosby, Weiner, Attica and XY Chelsea and docuseries such as Couples Therapy, UFO, The Circus and Love Fraud.

He’s also had a big hand in its booming music documentary business with the likes of Spector, Personality Crisis: One Night Only, Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James, Shangri-La, Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men and Whitney: Can I Be Me.

Malhotra was also involved on the scripted side, in charge of developing and producing scripted series about real events such as The Loudest Voice, based on Roger Ailes, and Ethan Hawke’s The Good Lord Bird.

Previously, he was at CNN Worldwide, where he was SVP, Development and Acquisitions and worked on series including Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man and This is Life with Lisa Ling. He started his career at ABC News before moving to ESPN.

“Vinnie has decades of experience bringing bold and compelling stories to life with a consistent blend of creative vision and integrity,” said President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. “We’re thrilled that Vinnie will be leading Higher Ground Productions as it continues to grow.”

“Like so many other Americans, I have long admired President and Mrs. Obama for their leadership, vision, and the many ways they have used their voices to champion creative and bold storytellers,” said Vinnie Malhotra. “I’m beyond excited and honored to join them as well as Joe, Tonia, Dan and the rest of the talented Higher Ground team. I look forward to building upon their track record of creating thought-provoking and entertaining content.”

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