Turner Ups Michael Wright to President, Head of Programming for TNT, TBS, TCM
In his decade-long tenure with the company, Wright has overseen such Turner network originals as "The Closer," "Falling Skies" and the upcoming "Dallas."
Turner Networks programming honcho Michael Wright is staying put with an expanded title.
The former EVP and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies has been promoted to president. He will continue to oversee all programming and scheduling for TNT and TBS, along with original programming for TCM and original content for all three network's digital extensions.
In his decade with the company, the Los Angeles-based Wright has overseen the networks’ push into originals, beginning with the long-running Kyra Sedgwick drama The Closer on TNT. More recently, Wright’s fingerprints have been on some of cable’s most popular shows, including Falling Skies, Rizzoli and Isles and Franklin & Bash. He was instrumental in TBS' acquisition of The Big Bang Theory and the recruitment of Conan O'Brien as well.
"Michael Wright has been an essential factor in the success of TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies," said Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin, to whom Wright reports. "Michael's relationships with creative talent, his eye for storytelling, his deep understanding of each network's unique brand voice and his ability to assemble and lead an extraordinary team have all combined to empower us within the industry."
Looking ahead, growing his cadre of originals is among Wright's stated goals, and he will make good on it this summer with a schedule that has more originals than ever before. Over the next five months, TNT will roll out five returning series as well as launch four new ones.
Among the freshman offerings: a Dallas reboot and Closer spinoff Major Crimes. The former will premiere with much fanfare and a subset of the original cast June 13; the latter bows August 13, immediately following the finale of Closer. The network has a collection of pilots in contention, too, including David E. Kelley and Sanjay Gupta's medical drama Chelsea General and Frank Darabont's crime drama L.A. Noir.
What's more, Wright, who got his start as an actor, is steering his collection of top-rated networks into unscripted fare. In mid-March, he announced an eight-episode order of King of the Nerds, a competition series to be paired with TBS’ Big Bang Theory reruns. For its part, TNT is prepping this summer’s The Great Escape, another competition reality show from Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and The Amazing Race‘s Bertram van Munster, which will drop contestants into such locales as a deserted island or a maximum-security prison.
Prior to joining the Time Warner-owned company in 2002, Wright served as VP of movies and miniseries for CBS. The stint included supervision on some of the network’s highest-rated and most acclaimed movies, including Sharing the Secret, The Long Way Home and the live production of On Golden Pond with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummmer. Before that Wright was a packaging agent at CAA.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose
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