Tom Werner Joins Board of Legendary Entertainment
UPDATED: The TV producer and Boston Red Sox chairman replaces Joe Roth, who is stepping aside to avoid a conflict of interest as he is producing movies for Legendary as well.
Thomas “Tom” Werner, who co-founded Carsey Werner and is chairman of the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool (U.K.) Football Club, is joining the Legendary Entertainment board of directors as of Sept. 25.
Werner will replace film producer and executive Joe Roth on the board. According to an announcement Thursday, Roth is stepping aside “to eliminate any potential governance conflicts arising from his focus and involvement as a producer on several Legendary films including Hot Wheels and Brilliance.”
Werner, a native New Yorker, had been an executive at ABC before co-founding Carsey Werner in 1980 with Marcy Carsey. For more than 15 years they remained among the top independent TV producers and syndicators.
Werner served as executive producer for many of the programs they produced including The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock From The Sun and That 70s Show.
Werner later joined with Oprah Winfrey and his longtime associate Caryn Mandabach (who also became a partner at Carsey Werner) to found the Oxygen cable network in 2000.
Werner has also been a longtime friend of Bill and Hilary Clinton, who, at times during the Clinton presidency and after, has advised them on media and other subjects.
Before the Red Sox, Werner was an investor in the San Diego Padres. In 2002, he was part of the Fenway Sports Group which paid $660 million for the Red Sox. They also went on to purchase control of Fenway Park and the New England Sports Network.
In 2010, Werner became chairman of the Liverpool team which plays what American’s call soccer. It is one of the best-known “football” teams in the U.K. and around the world.
Werner also continues to have interests in entertainment. In September he was named as an executive producer on a half hour scripted series called Survivor’s Remorse along with NBA star LeBron James and others. The series is said to be about a young athlete who rises out of one of the toughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. It’s being written by Mike O’Malley.
The other members of the Legendary board are company founder and chairman Thomas Tull, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners (which in 2011 made a reported $40 million investment in Legendary), A.G. Laffley, the CEO of Proctor & Gamble; and Dick Cook, a producer and former top level executive at Disney.
Werner, whose experience is primarily in TV, will join the board less than three months after Legendary expanded its ambitions in television by hiring Bruce Rosenblum, the former head of television at Warner Bros.
Legendary is also in the process of moving both its physical headquarters and its primary studio affiliation for movies. After years financing and co-financing movies with Warner Bros. (where its deal expires later this year), in July Legendary made a deal with Universal Studios to co-finance and distribute its films for five years starting in 2014.
In the past year, Warner Bros. has released four movies that were backed at least in part by Legendary, with one miss, a critical hit and three box office successes. Those movies are the flop Jack The Giant Slayer, the critical hit 42 and the box office blockbusters The Hangover Part III, Man Of Steel and Pacific Rim.
Legendary also has divisions that produce comic books, create products for digital distribution, do marketing and as of 2011, co-produce movies in China through Legendary East.