3,000 miles separate Turner Entertainment's Steve Koonin and Michael Wright, but not in strategy as they dish on "Conan," rejecting "Anger Management" and the one show they hated canceling.
Steve Koonin is not afraid to make enemies of his broadcast TV rivals. The Turner Entertainment Networks president famously stages his TBS/TNT upfront in the middle of the Big 5 presentations, first using the platform four years ago to blast the quality of broadcast shows. These days, the Atlanta-based Koonin, 54, and his L.A.-based president of programming, Michael Wright, 50, are still nipping at the networks, trotting onstage in May with Conan O'Brien (formerly of NBC) and the cast of Cougar Town (formerly of ABC). Their swagger comes from performance: TBS and TNT rounded out 2011 as top-five cable networks among the coveted 18-to-49 demographic with such series as Rizzoli & Isles, Falling Skies and The Big Bang Theory repeats -- and both have the ability to be, as Koonin puts it, "broadcast replacement." In the coming months, the former Coca-Cola marketing exec (Koonin) and onetime actor (Wright) will introduce The Closer spinoff Major Crimes, revive the classic soap Dallas and make their latest foray into reality with The Great Escape. The pair, married fathers with seven children between them, sat down in mid-April to discuss early hesitation on Dallas, a love for reality TV and their most controversial decision.
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