11:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Veteran HBO PR Exec Mara Mikialian to Exit Amid WarnerMedia Changes
Mara Mikialian, a stalwart at HBO for the past three and a half decades, is the latest PR exec to leave the premium cable network amid parent company WarnerMedia's realignment.
Sources say Mikialian — who led PR for all eight seasons of the mega-hit Game of Thrones — has decided to leave the company following a 36-year run. Her last day will be Jan. 13. Mikialian is expected to pursue other opportunities in the entertainment industry.
Mikialian, who most recently served as senior vp media relations at HBO, becomes the latest top-level departure at the company. She follows Nancy Lesser, who had a 35-year run, and Quentin Schaffer, who had a 39-year tenure, out the door at the pay cabler.
Mikialian — who was among the HBO execs who were singled out by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss during their Emmy acceptance speech for best drama — was responsible for overseeing PR campaigns for series, specials, limited series and movies, as well as serving as a liaison with trade press (like The Hollywood Reporter) on breaking programming news. She was part of HBO's early days of originals and worked on campaigns for Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Six Feet Under, True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Young Pope, My Brilliant Friend and Game of Thrones. For Thrones, Mikialian served as the conduit between press and the cast/producers and between production and the outside world, serving as HBO's ambassador to journalists, guests and visiting dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Mikialian started her career in the music industry while studying PR and communications at USC. She worked in PR departments for labels including Elektra/Asylum and Epic Records. Mikialian moved into the TV space in 1983 when she joined HBO.
Mikialian's news comes as little surprise given the previous departures of her longtime colleagues and friends Lesser and Schaffer. Lesser, to whom Mikialian previously reported, announced her departure to staff in October, while Schaffer, who led the PR department and to whom Lesser reported, exited in July.
Schaffer previously reported to former HBO CEO Richard Plepler. Plepler, Schaffer, Lesser and Mikialian are the latest high-ranking executives 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.
Communications for the premium cable network as well as WarnerMedia's forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max, have since been centralized under Kevin Brockman, who joined WarnerMedia in May after a 22-year run at Disney. Brockman reports to Bob Greenblatt, who boarded WarnerMedia in March as entertainment chairman, overseeing the company's entertainment brands including HBO. (Brockman departed Disney after the conglomerate's $71.3 billion Fox acquisition.)
Mikialian's departure, like Lesser's, had almost been a foregone conclusion after Greenblatt was hired in to oversee the entertainment portfolio, with the former NBC boss opting to bring in his own PR chief in Brockman. Brockman has been working directly with the PR staff from TNT and TBS that streaming chief Kevin Reilly put together before being tapped to oversee HBO Max. Marie Moore, who oversaw PR for HBO Max, TNT, TBS and TruTV, quietly departed in November as Brockman is expected to build out his own team using a mix of current staffers and new hires.