HBO's Sue Naegle Exits for Rich Producing Deal
Sue Naegle is stepping down at HBO.
After a five-year run as entertainment president at the premium cable network, Naegle is poised to set up a production company with a rich, multiyear first-look deal at HBO. The transition, on which HBO would not comment, will occur over the next few weeks. The news comes mere hours after the network earned an impressive 27 Emmy wins for a collection of series including Boardwalk Empire (Bobby Cannavale), Veep (Tony Hale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and The Newsroom (Jeff Daniels).
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Per the deal, Naegle will be able to produce series for HBO as well as for other outlets, with two informed sources suggesting the pact does not preclude her from shopping projects to basic cable outlets like AMC and FX. Similarly noteworthy, Naegle will not be replaced, say insiders, with programming president Michael Lombardo set to absorb many of her responsibilities. According to multiple sources who have done business with HBO, there had been growing overlap with the two execs' posts, leaving writers and their reps confused on whom to pitch.
The UTA partner-turned-programming exec has been an integral part of a team that helped to reinvigorate the network in the post Sopranos/Sex and the City era. Despite growing competition from distributors including AMC, FX, Netflix and Showtime, HBO has regained its status as a critical tastemaker and remains a destination where both writers and actors are eager to work. In her half-decade there, Naegle has been particularly involved with Veep, commercial smash Game of Thrones (the most recent season was the most watched since Sopranos' fifth season) and critical darling Girls. In a THR profile on Naegle for the 2012 Women in Entertainment list, Lena Dunham's agent and UTA co-founder Peter Benedek suggested "there would be no Girls without Sue."
Naegle joined HBO in 2008 after a lengthy stint at UTA, where she began her career in the agency's mailroom and worked her way up to partner status. During her tenure as a lit agent, the former Next Gen recipient repped clients including Mike White (Enlightened), Jenny Bicks and Alan Ball (True Blood), for whom she packaged hits Six Feet Under and True Blood before taking the gig. When she replaced HBO's long-serving entertainment chief Carolyn Strauss -- who segued into a similarly rich producing deal, under which she currently serves as a hands-on executive producer on Game of Thrones -- Naegle was able to bring several of her close-knit relationships with her. Those strong connections to talent, as well as a taste level that made her appealing to Lombardo and CEO Richard Plepler years earlier, will serve her well as she moves into a producer role.