David Madden to Run TV for Greg Berlanti Productions

Sarah Schechter and David Madsen - WBTV Publicity -H 2020
Courtesy of WBTV

Greg Berlanti Productions is adding some muscle to its senior leadership.

Berlanti's longtime producing partner and company president Sarah Schechter has been promoted to chairwoman and partner of the Warner Bros. Television-based production shingle. Additionally, Berlanti Productions has tapped former Fox Broadcasting and AMC Networks topper David Madden as president of the company. Madden will start Monday and will be focused squarely on television, reporting to both Berlanti and Schechter.

The move comes as Berlanti Productions currently has 22 scripted TV series (plus multiple pilots and scripts) in the works and as the prolific producer continues to expand with docuseries (HBO Max's Equal) and in the film space. Berlanti next will direct Universal's Rock Hudson biopic and previously helmed Fox 2000's YA coming out feature Love, Simon. He also has a deal in place to produce four YA-focused feature films for HBO Max, WarnerMedia's forthcoming streaming service. For the latter, Berlanti also has three other scripted series on tap (The Flight Attendant, DC's Strange Adventures and an untitled Green Lantern take).

For her part, Schechter — who joined Berlanti Productions in 2014 — has helped the company more than double its output. Berlanti shows make up more than two-thirds of The CW's scripted schedule, and the banner also currently has projects in the works at all five broadcast networks and streamers including HBO Max and Netflix, with additional deals also being eyed.  

"Sarah is simply the best at what she does," Berlanti said Wednesday in a statement. "I am inspired by her leadership, passion, smarts and vision every day. I’m grateful for everything she has done for this company and I’m beyond thrilled all of our shows, and everyone who works so hard on them, will continue to benefit from her immense talent for years to come."

With the promotion, Schechter is expected to remain heavily involved with the television side while also expanding to features alongside Berlanti. (To the latter point, she will be credited as a producer on the Hudson biopic.)

"I'm beyond excited and honored to be taking on this new role at the company I love so much," said Schechter. "These past six years working alongside Greg have been the most creatively satisfying of my career. He is the most extraordinary partner and friend anyone could ask for. I'm constantly inspired by his talent and his kindness. I’m also very grateful to [Warner Bros. execs] Susan Rovner, Brett Paul, Peter Roth, Ann Sarnoff and everyone at WBTV for their support and friendship. I am thrilled to have Dave Madden joining us and our brilliant team. He is one of the most respected leaders in the television industry and I’m confident he will help us take the TV business to new heights."

As for Madden, he arrives at Berlanti Productions following a two-year run as programming president at basic-cable network AMC, where he had a hand in developing the third scripted Walking Dead series and the franchise's larger expansion into features. Before that, Madden served as Fox Broadcasting Co. entertainment president. It was during his tenure at Fox that Madden and Berlanti together developed Riverdale and Black Lightning, both of which would eventually move to The CW and score series orders at the younger-skewing broadcaster. Berlanti's TV volume and expansion into films and other areas presented the need for another senior executive, which the company gets in Madden. (Sources say WME, which reps the super-producer, was instrumental in connecting the two.)  

"I’ve admired Dave since we first worked together for his creative insight and his warm and beloved leadership style," Berlanti said. "Sarah and I couldn’t be happier that he has chosen to join us as we continue to build the TV side of our company."

Sources say Madden has spent the months since leaving AMC mulling his next step as he was taking meetings across town. Among the options, sources say, was launching his own company. Ultimately, Madden went with Berlanti Productions, where he will also reunite with a couple of former execs from his team at Fox in Jonathan Gabay and Karyn Smith-Forge.  

"Ever since leaving AMC, I’d been looking for an opportunity to return to my roots in producing, to get closer to the shows and work more meaningfully with the showrunners," Madden said. "What better way to accomplish that than by joining the most prolific television production company in the business, and at the same time to work for two of the nicest and smartest people around? I’m an enormous admirer of the Berlanti brand, of the range and quality of their shows. After this little break, I am more than ready to dive in."

Berlanti Productions renewed its overall deal with Warner Bros. TV in 2018 and has four years remaining on the current pact, which sources at the time valued at $400 million. The deal has financial incentives for Berlanti to become even more prolific than his current 22 scripted shows (23 overall), with additional cash clauses kicking in when he hits a specific number of series. This season, Berlanti has The CW's first-ever straight-to-series order in Superman & Lois, and three other pilots: the network's female-focused Arrow spinoff and Kung Fu update, as well as ABC's The Brides.

"Berlanti Productions is synonymous with creative excellence, and all of us at Warner Bros. are both honored and privileged to be associated with Greg and his entire team," Roth, Rovner and Paul said in a joint statement. "Crucial to the company’s extraordinary success is the incomparable Sarah Schechter. Sarah is an exceptional producer and we are delighted that she will continue to lead this company with Greg. We are also very excited to welcome the outstanding David Madden to Berlanti Productions. The sky is truly the limit for this group, and we look forward to our storied and very successful collaboration for many years to come."