12:26pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
TNT's Sarah Aubrey to Head Originals for WarnerMedia Streaming Service
Kevin Reilly is formalizing his top executive leadership for the forthcoming WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer streaming platform.
The TBS and TNT executive, who was promoted in December to chief creative officer for the forthcoming platform, has tapped Sarah Aubrey to serve as head of originals. Meanwhile, TBS' Brett Weitz has been promoted to general manager for both the comedy-themed cable network and its Turner-owned sibling TNT. Reilly, to whom Aubrey and Weitz will report, made the announcement Thursday via an internal memo. (Read his memo to staff, below.)
Aubrey will now have greenlight power for TV and films for the streaming platform, working with other WarnerMedia brands and outside sellers while also continuing to oversee development for TNT's drama pipeline. Weitz will now oversee all scripted and unscripted for both cable networks while working closely with Michael Quigley, Michael Engleman and Sandra Dewey on scheduling, marketing and business affairs.
Aubrey most recently was executive vp originals at TNT. She first joined the cable network in 2015 as Reilly's top exec for the drama-focused outlet and played a central role in morphing TNT from a hub for broad-skewing procedurals (the since-canceled Major Crimes, The Librarians) to prestige fare including The Alienist, the Chris Pine vehicle I Am the Night, Animal Kingdom and Claws, among others. Before joining TNT, Aubrey headed Peter Berg's Film 44 and produced the critical darling Friday Night Lights and HBO's The Leftovers. She started her career as an entertainment lawyer.
Weitz, meanwhile, will add TNT to his purview after serving as executive vp programming at TBS, where he was one of the central forces behind its reinvention from broad multicamera comedies to a home for critically praised comedies including Search Party, The Guest Book, The Last O.G. and The Detour. He also led TBS into the unscripted space with series including Drop the Mic. His new role will see Weitz return to overseeing both networks after he previously served as senior vp scripted development for both TBS and TNT during Michael Wright's tenure at the Turner-owned networks. During that stretch, he developed and launched The Last Ship, Rizzoli & Isles, Dallas and Falling Skies, among others.
The promotions arrive as Reilly has been tasked with running both TNT and TBS as well as overseeing content strategy for WarnerMedia's forthcoming rival service to Netflix. The platform is expected to blend programming from HBO and other WarnerMedia brands alongside library content and some licensed fare. Reilly reports directly to David Levy and will work directly with WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey on the direct-to-consumer service.
Below is Reilly's memo to staff.
Today I am very pleased to announce two key executive moves to position us moving forward.
First relating to the new WarnerMedia streaming service, I’m naming my longtime colleague Sarah Aubrey to Head of Original Content, reporting to me. In this position Sarah will oversee all original series and feature films for the new service.
Sarah will collaborate closely with her counterparts across Turner, HBO and Warner Bros. as we prepare for launch later this year and soon build out a new slate of distinctive originals for the service. In addition, Sarah will continue to oversee her existing pipeline of TNT dramas during this transition.
Sarah and I have had a close working relationship since we collaborated on Friday Night Lights at NBC. She was one of my first recruits to join me at Turner, and her stellar evolution of the TNT brand as well as her reputation as a talent-friendly executive with great taste and finesse underscores the values we’ll prioritize on this new platform.
Secondly for Turner, Brett Weitz is being promoted to General Manager of TBS and TNT, reporting to me. In his new role Brett will oversee all scripted, and unscripted programming, as well as manage the networks’ scheduling, marketing and business affairs in close collaboration with Michael Quigley, Michael Engleman and Sandra Dewey.
The reinvigoration of the TBS brand under Brett’s leadership could not have delivered better results. From assembling a top-notch team to fostering relationships with established and emerging creative partners, Brett built TBS into a true force in original comedy with a series of ratings successes and awards.
Brett and I have established a shorthand and deep level of trust over the past four years and David and I are fully confident this level of execution will continue for both TBS and TNT.
Please join me in congratulating both Sarah and Brett!