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Richard Plepler is finalizing his next act.
The former HBO CEO, who departed the premium cable network in February after a three-decade run, is in advanced discussions to sign an exclusive production pact with Apple TV+. A deal is expected to close before the end of the year.
Once an agreement is finalized, Plepler and his new company — RLP & Co. — would create original content for Apple’s recently launched subscription streaming service, TV+. The five-year deal became official in early January.
Apple declined comment.
Plepler, one of the most respected and highly regarded executives in the industry, departed HBO earlier this year in a move that stunned the TV community. His exit came nine months after AT&T’s regime took over Time Warner and renamed it WarnerMedia. The newly merged company appointed former NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt to a massive role in March that gave him oversight of the premium cabler — best known for iconic originals like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones — as well as its forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max, and various other cable networks.
At the time, sources said Plepler cited HBO’s shrinking autonomy within the expanded WarnerMedia portfolio as a major motivator and that he had a “gracious” conversation with WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey about departing before the chatter about a new top programming hire at the parent company had started.
Should the deal with Plepler close, he would become the latest executive from a linear outlet to head to streaming. ABC Studios president Patrick Moran recently inked a pod deal with Amazon Studios, which is now overseen by former NBC head of scripted Jennifer Salke; former Universal TV topper Bela Bajaria now has a key role at Netflix, as does ex-ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey; and Greenblatt, of course, oversees HBO Max. For their part, Van Amburg and Erlicht previously oversaw broadcast-focused indie studio Sony TV before heading to Apple.
Apple launched its TV+ offering on Nov. 1 with originals including The Morning Show, See, Dickinson and For All Mankind (all of which have been renewed for second seasons). The $5 monthly service has spent the past two years making deals with high-profile showrunners and stars alike as it looks to create its own library of originals rather than spend big on library titles.
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