HBO's Head of PR to Depart After Nearly 40 Years

Quentin Schaffer — Publicity — H 2019
Courtesy of HBO

Two months after corporate parent WarnerMedia enlisted Kevin Brockman as its head of PR, HBO's head of corporate communications is set to exit following an impressive 39-year run.

Quentin Schaffer on Monday announced his plans to depart the premium cable network. The executive vp corporate communications, who previously reported to former HBO CEO Richard Plepler, will leave the company in August. Schaffer revealed the news via a heartfelt internal memo. (Read that in its entirety, below.)

"HBO has been an amazing place to work alongside the brightest and most creative people I’ve ever come across, particularly the communications team. What made it special was that we always had an enviable slate of programming to work with. In looking back, I feel lucky to have had the greatest temporary job in the business. For 39 years. With Kevin now here, the team is in good hands and I can feel comfortable moving on," Schaffer said in a statement.

Schaffer joined HBO in 1980 as a senior publicist and rose through the ranks until he was named senior vp corporate communications in 1999. He was responsible for all consumer press outreach, talent relations, special events, awards campaigns, trade advertising and corporate affairs. Schaffer pioneered the first premiere of a TV show in a theater with Sex and the City in 1999, was among the originators of HBO's Emmy campaigns and saw through the launch of HBO Now with Apple and campaigns for Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Big Little Lies and many more. He reported to Plepler for the past 28 years. Plepler stepped down in February after a nearly three-decade run after seeing his autonomy reduced when WarnerMedia brought in former NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt to oversee creative for HBO Max and cable networks HBO, TBS, TNT and more.

"I've been doing PR for a long time and have always admired the magic of HBO's amazing publicity machine, first from afar and now close-up. I know how big a part Quentin played in leading those efforts, and in keeping the brand alive, and was sad to learn of his decision to leave," said Brockman, who serves as executive vp global communications for Warner Media Entertainment and its direct-to-consumer platform HBO Max. "But I’m glad I got the chance to work with him, if only for a few months. On behalf of everyone at the company, I want to thank him for his many contributions. After 39 years, he deserves a break."

Schaffer is the latest high-ranking executive to depart after AT&T acquired Time Warner (and rebranded the company as WarnerMedia). Others to exit the company include president and chief revenue officer Simon Sutton, global distribution topper Bernadette Aulestia and HBO miniseries and Cinemax president Kary Antholis.

Here is Schaffer's full memo to staff:

To: HBO Staff

Fm: Quentin Schaffer

Fade in. When I first began at HBO, I was sent to Nashville to cover a country music special. The legendary rock star Jerry Lee Lewis threatened my life because he didn’t like an innocent question I had asked for a press release. My HBO career appeared to be over after only 30 days. Little did I know that he was merely joking with me and little did I know I’d be at HBO 39 years (yes, longer than Glenn Whitehead). Flash ahead as I look back on an amazing career and the honor of running HBO’s top-notch PR operation.

Focus on a montage of memories that included a screening of Band of Brothers on the beaches of Normandy with the men of Easy Company, my 15 minutes as Michael Jackson’s spokesman in 1995, a visit to Nelson Mandela’s office while in Johannesburg for the Whitney Houston concert, being in Moscow right after Perestroika for a screening of Stalin (I shouldn’t have been there as my daughter was born the same time), the barrage of calls after The Sopranos went to black, the first-ever screening of a TV show for Sex and the City, more than 100 TCA press tours with the likes of Billy Joel, Britney Spears, George Clooney, Monica Lewinsky, eight Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, events at the White House with Bill Clinton and then Barack Obama as well as a screening in Kennebunkport with both Presidents Bush, a daring visit to the West Bank to see the Church of the Nativity, set visits to Rome and Belfast and the final season premiere at Radio City Music Hall for Game of Thrones with 42 cast members, 1,500 HBO employees and 5000 guests. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, I met my wife here.

Cut to present day. Throughout my HBO career I’ve always been able to answer Yes to the two questions essential to ask in any job: Am I having fun and am I still learning. So many of you have made that possible as you were the brightest, kindest, funniest and most special people I could ever have worked with, starting at the top with my boss of 28 years Richard Plepler and my dear colleague of 35 years Nancy Lesser. Thanks to you all for such a great experience. It’s been the greatest temporary job. For 39 years. And now, when summer ends, I’ve decided to move onto something new. My wife has convinced me I could have just as much fun and learn new things if I spent more time with her. Cut to black (courtesy of David Chase).