Former HBO Chief Richard Plepler's Apple Deal Becomes Official

Richard Plepler attends 'The Price of Everything' - Getty - H 2019
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Former HBO chief Richard Plepler officially has a new home at Apple.

Plepler's newly formed Eden Productions has signed a five-year deal to produce projects for the tech giant's Apple TV+. The erstwhile HBO CEO, who left the premium cable outlet in early 2019 after 27 years, entered into advanced talks with Apple TV toppers Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht in November.

"I'm excited to work with Zack, Jamie and the standout team at Apple who have been deeply supportive of my vision for Eden from Day One," Plepler said Thursday in a statement. The shows that Zack and Jamie produced [at Sony], The Crown and Breaking Bad, are among those I most admired. Apple is one of the most creative companies in the world and the perfect home for my new production company and next chapter."

Eden Productions will be a boutique company that focuses on a few select programs. Plepler's deal with Apple encompasses scripted series, feature films and documentaries.

Plepler, one of the most respected executives in the industry, departed HBO last February in a move that stunned the TV community. His exit came nine months after AT&T's regime took over Time Warner and renamed it WarnerMedia. The newly merged company appointed former NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt to a massive role in March that gave him oversight of the premium cabler — best known for iconic originals like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones — as well as its forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max, and various other cable networks.

At the time, sources said Plepler cited HBO's shrinking autonomy within the expanded WarnerMedia portfolio as a major motivator and that he had a "gracious" conversation with WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey about departing before the chatter about a new top programming hire at the parent company had started.

Plepler's move to Apple is the latest chapter in the war for talent as media giants like Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia all launch their own direct-to-consumer platforms in a bid to compete with established players such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

Sources say Van Amburg and Erlicht, Apple TV+ heads of worldwide video, led the charge to strike a production deal with Plepler, who has a long roster of ties to the industry's most sought-after creators and stars. Plepler's is the latest high-profile production pact secured by the duo, joining a roster that also includes Oprah Winfrey, A24, Sesame Workshop and the parent company of Peanuts.

Plepler is part of the growing ranks of executives from traditional TV outlets who have headed to streaming. ABC Studios president Patrick Moran recently inked a pod deal with Amazon Studios, which is now overseen by former NBC head of scripted Jennifer Salke; former Universal TV topper Bela Bajaria now has a key role at Netflix, as does ex-ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey; and Greenblatt, of course, oversees HBO Max. For their part, Van Amburg and Erlicht previously oversaw broadcast-focused indie studio Sony TV before heading to Apple.