7:00am PT by Natalie Jarvey, Lesley Goldberg
WarnerMedia's Streaming Service: A Guide to All the HBO Max Programming (So Far)
Streaming has been top of mind for John Stankey since he took the reins of WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner) in June 2018.
The longtime AT&T executive has spent the better part of the last year lining up the executive team that will help make it possible for the company to join Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney and NBCUniversal in the streaming wars when it launches its direct-to-consumer offering at the end of the year.
Despite the looming deadline, some details are still being sorted out. A name and pricing have yet to be announced, though the service is expected to be called HBO Max and offer two price points depending on whether the customer wants to view ads. (That's a change from the initial plan, which was to offer three tiers with different programming bundles.)
Cable crown jewel HBO will be central to the upcoming service, which will also feature content from across the company's entertainment brands, among them TBS, TNT, CNN and Warner Bros., which owns DC Entertainment and a vast library of current and one-time film and TV hits. Properties likely to eventually make their way to the service include Friends and The Big Bang Theory.
The product that will be released this year will be a beta version, with the ad-supported offering and original programming not expected to roll out until 2020. Ahead of the streamer's launch, here's a guide to the people in charge and the original programming they're buying.
TOP DECISION MAKERS
Bob Greenblatt is chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer. Hired in March, the former NBC Entertainment chairman oversees the streamer service in addition to a television portfolio that includes networks HBO, TNT, TBS and truTV. Greenblatt’s purview also comprises the Otter Media division that owns niche brands Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen and has a minority stake in Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. He reports to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey.
Kevin Reilly leads the streamer’s programming as chief content officer, a title he holds in addition to his position running WarnerMedia Entertainment’s basic cable networks. The veteran executive, the only one to have led two broadcast and three cable networks, reupped his contract at through 2022 in May and reports to Greenblatt.
Sarah Aubrey joined the WarnerMedia streamer as head of originals in January. She reports to Reilly, who was also her boss when she led original programming at TNT. Known for prestige fare like The Alienist and The Leftovers, Aubrey now has greenlight power for both the TV shows and films at the direct-to-consumer offering.
Jennifer O’Connell is executive vp original nonfiction and kids programming, a role she took in May after departing her job running alternative at Lionsgate TV. She reports to Aubrey.
Suzanna Makkos is executive vp original comedy and animation programming, reporting to Aubrey. She took the role in May after several years at Fox, where she oversaw such projects as The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Joey Chavez is executive vp original drama, reporting to Aubrey. He was previously senior vp original programming at TNT, where he developed shows including Claws and The Alienist.
Jessie Henderson is executive vp original feature films, joining the streamer from Paul Feig’s Feigco, where she worked on Spy and A Simple Favor and developed the anthology series Love Life starring Anna Kendrick for the yet-to-launch platform. She took the job in June and reports to Aubrey.
Jeniffer Kim is senior vp international originals, leading worldwide content development for HBO Max, working in tandem with the U.S. originals team. She'll also be responsible for finding co-production opportunities outside the United States and will continue working on comedy originals, focusing on stand-up specials. She comes to HBO Max from TBS, where she was senior vp original programming.
Tony Goncalves leads product and development at the streamer, a promotion in addition to his oversight of the Otter Media business. The longtime AT&T and DirecTV executive reports to Greenblatt.
Andy Forssell is executive vp and general manager of the streaming service, reporting to Goncalves. The former Hulu executive, and interim CEO, replaced AT&T’s Brad Bentley in the role.
Americanah | The 10-episode limited series based on the best-selling novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will star Lupita Nyong'o (Us, 12 Years a Slave) in her first role in an American TV series. She plays a woman born in Nigeria who leaves for America and has extraordinary experiences with love, heartache, adversity and self-discovery. Nyong'o's Black Panther co-star and Tony-nominated playwright Danai Gurira will adapt the book and serve as showrunner. The two executive produce along with Plan B Entertainment, Andrea Calderwood for Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions and Nancy Won.
The Boondocks | A "reimagined" version of creator Aaron McGruder's animated series is set to bow in fall 2020. HBO Mas has ordered two seasons and 24 episodes of the show, which originally aired four seasons on Adult Swim from 2005-14. All 55 previous episodes of the series will be available at launch. The new seasons will follow Robert "Granddad" Freeman and grandsons Huey and Riley as they move to an idyllic suburban community in Maryland — only to see it taken over by the tyrannical Uncle Ruckus and his bizarre neofascist regime. McGruder serves as showrunner and executive produces with Norm Aladjem for Mainstay Entertainment, Seung Kim and Meghann Collins Robertson. Sony Pictures Animation produces in partnership with Sony Pictures TV.
Circe | The eight-episode, straight-to-series drama is based on Madeline Miller's best-selling book of the same name. The drama is told from the powerful feminist perspective of the goddess Circe, who transforms from an awkward nymph to a formidable witch, able to challenge gods, titans and monsters alike. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World) will pen the script and exec produce the Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content series.
Dune: The Sisterhood | The female-focused take on Frank Herbert's beloved novel takes place in the same universe and explores the future through the eyes of a mysterious order of women: the Bene Gesserit. Denis Villeneuve, who wrote, produced and directed the upcoming feature film take on Dune, will helm the pilot. Jon Spaihts will pen the script for the TV series, which hails from Legendary Television. Villeneuve and Spaihts — who wrote the feature screenplay together — will executive produce alongside Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert for the Frank Herbert estate.
The Flight Attendant | The thriller marks Kaley Cuoco's first live-action follow-up since she wrapped her 12-season role as Penny on CBS' The Big Bang Theory. Cuoco, who optioned the Chris Bohjalian best-seller, stars as Cassandra Bowden, a binge-drinking flight attendant prone to blackouts who wakes up one morning next to a dead body and begins to lie as she looks to fill in the blanks from the fateful night in Dubai. Cuoco executive produces alongside Greg Berlanti. Steve Yockey (Supernatural) will adapt the novel and serve as showrunner. Susanna Fogel (The Spy Who Dumped Me) will direct and exec produce the first two episodes. Meredith Lavender and Marcie Ulin will serve as co-showrunners.
Gossip Girl | Seven years after The CW drama ended, the streaming platform is teaming with original series creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and former showrunner Josh Safran for a 10-episode update of the former Blake Lively vehicle. The new take, described as an extension, takes place eight years after the original "website" went dark and follows a new generation of New York private school teens who are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The new take will address how much social media — and the landscape of New York — has changed in the intervening years.
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai | The adult-focused animated comedy is a prequel to the 1984 feature film Gremlins. The 10-episode series is set in Shanghai in the 1920s and reveals the story of how 10-year-old Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 movie) met the young Mogwai called Gizmo. Tze Chun (Gotham) serves as the writer and exec produces alongside Amblin Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
Love Life | The comedic anthology stars Pitch Perfect favorite Anna Kendrick in a 10-episode journey that follows her character from first love to last love and how the people we're with along the way make us into who we are when we finally end up with someone forever. Each season will follow a different protagonist's quest for love, with each half-hour episode telling the story of one of their relationships. Kendrick executive produces alongside creator Sam Boyd. Paul Feig (who worked with Kendrick on A Simple Favor) will exec produce the Lionsgate TV series.
Made for Love | The half-hour scripted comedy centers on Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti), a thirty-something woman on the run after 10 years of marriage to an unstable, needy and potentially sociopathic tech billionaire. She soon discovers that her husband has implanted a revolutionary monitoring device — called the Made for Love — in her brain. Patrick Somerville (Maniac) will adapt Alissa Nutting's book of the same name for the Paramount TV-produced series.
Starstruck | Comedian Rose Matafeo created and will star in this six-episode comedy (also airing on BBC Three in the U.K.) about a millennial woman in London who works two dead-end jobs and has to navigate the awkward morning after when she discovers the complications of accidentally sleeping with a movie star. Matafeo executive produces the Avalon Television production with Jon Thoday, Richard Allen-Turner and Rob Aslett.
Station Eleven | The limited series, also from Maniac's Patrick Somerville, is based on Emily St. John Mandel's book and takes place in a world where survivors of a devastating fly try to rebuild and reimagine the world while holding on to the best of what's been lost. Hiro Murai (Atlanta) directs the Paramount TV series.
Tokyo Vice | Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort will make his TV series regular debut in the 10-episode drama based on the nonfiction book by Jake Adelstein. The project is the author's first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and details his daily descent into the neon-soaked underbelly of Tokyo, where nothing and no one is truly what or who they seem. Elgort will play Adelstein, the American journalist who embeds himself into the Tokyo Vice police squad to reveal corruption. Ken Watanabe also stars as a detective who becomes a father figure to Jake.
The Greatest Space | A globe-trotting design competition that will feature two-person teams traveling to a new city in each episode, where they'll take cues from some of the world's most glamorous and audacious designs to transform empty rooms — be they bedrooms, ballrooms or tree houses — into spectacular spaces. The series comes from New Media Collective (The Amazing Race) and Scout Productions (Queer Eye), with NMC's Bertram van Munster, Elise Doganieri and Mark Dziak and Scout's David Collins, Michael Williams and Rob Eric executive producing.
Legendary | Ten voguing houses, each consisting of five young performers and a house "parent," will compete in a series of fashion and dance challenges. Each episode will showcase a themed ball from start to finish, with the top house at the end of 10 episodes earning a cash prize and "legendary" status. David Collins, Michael Williams and Rob Eric of Scout Productions (Queer Eye) executive produce with Renata Lombardo and Shant Tutunjian.
• Practical Magic prequel Rules of Magic, from Melissa Rosenberg (Jessica Jones) and WBTV
• Red Bird Lane, a YA drama from John Wells and WBTV
• Delilah, a comedy about a young woman (Jessica Rothe) who, after a life-changing event, takes a first step toward putting her life back together by introducing herself to a complete stranger who may or may not be her father. Michael McKean also stars.
Berlanti will produce four YA-focused feature films for HBO Max.
Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine banner will also produce at least two feature films for the service.
Let Them Talk, HBO Max's first acquisition, stars Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, Candice Bergen, Gemma Chan and Lucas Hedges and is an original comedy being directed by Steven Soderbergh.