Bela Bajaria

Born: Dec. 11, 1970 (28)

Director, Movies and Miniseries

CBS Entertainment

One of TV's hottest shows isn't a sitcom or a cop show it's the "CBS Sunday Night Movie," which routinely finishes as one of the top 10-rated prime-time shows each week. Helping develop and guide those shows is 28-year-old Bela Bajaria, director of CBS's movies and miniseries. The track record has propelled the British-born Bajaria into network television's fast lane.

Although CBS audiences tend to be older, Bajaria's twentysomething status does not appear to be a hindrance. By focusing on themes with broad demographic appeal, such as the mother-daughter relationship, she has edged the network toward a younger viewership without alienating its traditional audience.

"I got my job young and it sort of allows you to take more chances to push the edge of the envelope, especially with younger demographics," she says. "Sometimes it rips and sometimes it doesn't."

Born in London of Indian parents, Bajaria came to Los Angles at the age of 8 and became an avid TV watcher.

"I always wanted to do some form of producing, even as a child," she recalls. "I wasn't a movie buff then, but when I got older I knew this is what I wanted to do."

Bajaria graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in communications and began her career on camera, working as a video disk jockey for an Asian-American cable network in New York. In 1995, she joined First Serve Entertainment as an executive in charge of producing a weekly news and entertainment show on local UHF station KSCI-TV Channel 18.

In 1996, Bajaria went to CBS as a development assistant for the director of movies at the network. A year later, she jumped to Warner Bros.' TV movie department.

Within months, she was back at CBS. She credits her boss, miniseries executive Sunta Izzicupo, with her return.

The secret to her own subsequent success? "I trust my gut and I have great collaborative relationships and mentors," she says.

Adelson agrees. "Age is not part of the equation," she says. "She is a contemporary in terms of her knowledge. She's very creative."

Frank Swertlow

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