Turner Broadcasting has tapped Kevin Reilly to serve as the head of TNT and TBS.
The former Chairman of Fox Entertainment has joined the company as President of the two networks and Chief Creative Officer of Turner Broadcasting, TVWise has learned. The dual positions will see Reilly succeeding both for former TNT & TBS Head of Programming Michael Wright and Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin. He will be based in LA and report to Turner President David Levy.
As President of TNT and TBS, Kevin Reilly will be responsible for overseeing and leading all aspects of both networks, from development through to program scheduling, planning and content-monetization strategies. In addition, as Chief Creative Officer he will chair the newly formed Turner Entertainment Programming Council, which is designed to engage the senior programming executives of TNT, TBS, Adult Swim and truTV to explore and develop cross-platform opportunities.
The appointment of Reilly ends a months long search for a direct replace for Michael Wright, who exited Turner and ultimately took a job at DreamWorks. It also comes six months after he stepped down from his post at Fox, where he greenlit such hit series as Glee, Sleepy Hollow and Gotham. While at the network he also laid out controversial plans to “abandon” the broadcast pilot season for a model similar to that used in cable; and was one of the first broadcast execs to decry the use of live+same day figures in favour of L3 and L7.
“Kevin is one of the most respected, innovative and influential executives in the television industry, and he’s joining Turner Broadcasting at the ideal time for him and for the networks,” said Levy. “Kevin brings a tremendous track record of success not only in terms of programming hits but also in the new media arena, where he was among the first broadcast network executives to push for meaningful investment in digital and social media. He has never shied away from taking bold programming risks and being a true champion of quality television. And on top of all that, he’s an inspiring leader whose energy, creativity and style are a perfect fit for Turner’s flagship entertainment networks.”
For Reilly the decision to join the Time Warner owned cabler comes after months of on-again/off-again talks, which at one point seemed like they would not close. It also marks a return to his cable roots, with Reilly having previously served as President of Entertainment at FX where he helped define their scripted brand with the likes of The Shield and Rescue Me. He is largely seen as the natural choice to take over at TNT/TBS, given the cable sensitivities he displayed at Fox – namely the abandonment of pilot season – in his final year with the broadcast network.
“There’s so much theoretical blabber these days about the potential of emergent content and platforms that you can drown in it,” said Reilly. “My six-month journey through the robust but chaotic media marketplace led me to re-confirm a less novel idea: the best place to create, distribute and consume premium television content today is cable TV. Through this process, I connected with kindred spirits in David Levy and the whole Turner organization, who understand both the real value of what we deliver today and how we need to push forward to stay positioned for tomorrow. We are going to use the considerable resources at Turner to entice top talent, create world-class content and meet and engage consumers in a contemporary fashion. I can’t wait.”