Wright gets original for TCM, too


Michael Wright, who heads original programming for Turner cable networks TNT and TBS, has been named senior vp of the newly reorganized and renamed Content Creation Group, which gives him the added responsibility for Turner Classic Movies' original programming.

In his expanded role, Wright will continue to oversee all original programming for TBS and TNT, including original series, limited series and specials, while adding responsibility for original content for the digital extensions of TNT, TBS and TCM.

At TCM, Wright will supervise original documentaries and specials and branch out into the production of original programming. Wright said it's still to be determined whether that will entail new original series, a series of docus or specials -- or some combination of the three.

Wright joined TNT in 2002 and was named senior vp original programming two years later. In December 2005, he added development and production of original programming for TBS to his responsibilities. During his tenure, TNT has launched the highly rated series "The Closer" and the miniseries "Into the West," while TBS has bowed the original comedies "My Boys" and "10 Items or Less," which are returning this year with new episodes.

Upcoming TNT projects include the limited series "The Company" and "The Talisman" as well as two new drama series, "Saving Grace" and "Heartland." TBS also is launching two new series this year: "The Bill Engvall Show" and a late-night sketch comedy featuring Frank Caliendo.

Wright is based in Los Angeles and reports to Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin.

"Through his abundant creativity and talent for forming valuable partnerships with top names in the industry, Michael has become the driving force behind TBS' and TNT's success when it comes to original programming," Koonin said. "I am confident that his added responsibilities ... will continue to result in top-rated, award-winning projects that deliver on the brand promises of each network."

For his part, Wright wants to create something of a one-stop shop for those pitching ideas to TNT, TBS and/or TCM.

"We might hear a pitch and say, 'That doesn't work for TNT, but how do we steer this and move it to TCM?' " he said. "We want to create one stop for talent. One focal point will better address our needs as it relates to programming."

The news of Wright's promotion follows last month's resignation of TCM GM Tom Karsch, whose duties have been assumed by Wright, Koonin and TCM senior vp programming Charlie Tabesh, Wright said.

Day-to-day operation of the TCM original programming team will continue to be handled by vp program production Tom Brown, who now reports to Wright.

Before Turner, Wright was vp movies and miniseries at CBS Prods. and CBS Entertainment.