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Warner Bros. Television is getting some new day-to-day leadership.
Susan Rovner and Brett Paul have been promoted to presidents of the studio, assuming day-to-day management of all scripted programming developed and produced by WBTV as they continue to serve in the same role at cable-focused Warner Horizon Scripted Television.
Rovner and Paul will now have oversight of north of 60 scripted originals as they will take on responsibilities previously held by WBTV president Peter Roth. Rovner and Paul will continue to report to Roth, who has served as president and chief content officer at the larger Warner Bros. TV Group since 2013. Roth will continue to maintain oversight of all WBTVG divisions — including WBTV, Warner Horizon scripted and unscripted units, Warner Bros. Animation, Telepictures, Shed Media and Blue Ribbon Content. Roth — who remains under contract through the end of 2020 — will also continue to serve on the Warner Bros. interim leadership team alongside Toby Emmerich and Kim Williams during the studio’s search for an executive to replace the ousted Kevin Tsujihara.
The timing of the announcement comes mere days after Roth said farewell to the studio’s mega-hit, The Big Bang Theory, and wrapped a busy upfront season that saw the studio’s broadcast sales slide from nine a year ago to five amid a growing Disney that has now absorbed 20th Century Fox TV and as ownership remains increasingly important across the industry. Rovner and Paul’s elevation to WBTV presidents takes Roth out of the TV studio’s day-to-day business that he has overseen since March 1999. Roth’s current position with the studio echoes that of former Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum, whom Roth replaced in the role back in 2013. Roth relinquishes day-to-day oversight at a time when the TV industry continues to evolve as multiple companies — WarnerMedia, Comcast and Disney — are launching their own streaming platforms in a bid to compete with new media behemoths like Netflix, Amazon and, soon, Apple.
“Susan and Brett have been fundamental to the success of the Warner Bros. Television Group for more than 20 years,” Roth said Wednesday in a statement. “At Warner Bros., we are incredibly fortunate to be associated with some of the most accomplished writers, producers and creative talent in the world. Through a combination of great passion to discover new material, a world-class collaborative spirit, insightful guidance and a restless vision for the future, Susan has been instrumental in creating an environment that allows these generational talents to flourish. As the division’s top negotiator and adviser, Brett’s thoughtful counsel, creative approach to dealmaking and expansive view of the television landscape has been instrumental to ensuring that Warner Bros. is well positioned for sustained growth and success over the next 20 years, during a time of great opportunity in our industry.”
Rovner and Paul, in their roles as executive vps at WBTV, have spearheaded the larger TV group’s expansion from its broadcast focus to cable and streaming platforms. Of the group’s more than 60 live-action scripted series, 60 percent are for on-demand/subscription services or cable. The duo take over daily oversight of some of the studio’s most important deals with producers including Chuck Lorre (Big Bang Theory), the prolific Greg Berlanti (who alone is behind 18 series for the studios), Ava DuVernay, the recently signed Mindy Kaling and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (the Riverdale franchise), among others.
In her new role, Rovner will oversee creative affairs for WBTV and Warner Horizon’s scripted unit on top of the studio’s drama and comedy development teams. She now adds oversight of the current programming group. Rovner has been with the studio for more than two decades and has overseen an impressive 18 shows that have topped the 100-episode milestone marker (or will do so next season). Series developed during her tenure include Arrow, Supernatural, Gotham, Shameless, Castle Rock, Shrill, Westworld and more.
“I am truly honored and unbelievably excited to have the opportunity to lead the outstanding team we have here at Warner Bros. Television,” Rovner said. “This studio has been my home for more than 20 years, and I could not be happier to continue to come to work at such a special place, under the incomparable leadership of Peter Roth. I have spent the majority of my career here, and I am extremely grateful for the confidence Peter has shown in me. Brett and I look forward to helping to write the next chapter in the WBTV success story.”
For his part, Paul — who started his career with the studio in 1995 as vp business affairs — will oversee the strategic direction for each division in a multiplatform media landscape. He has direct operational oversight of physical production, business affairs, estimating and administration for both divisions and shared oversight of divisional legal and finance with WB corporate. During his time with the studio, Paul has led or been central to the studio’s structure and negotiation with several high-profile writer-producer and pod deals, including Lorre, Berlanti, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, Damon Lindelof, John Wells and Archie Comics, while also overseeing its high-profile talent negotiations, including with the casts of The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Shameless, Supernatural and more.
“For more than 20 years, I have been excited to work with the indefatigable Peter Roth, a team of incredible colleagues, and the talented writers, producers and performers with whom we build deep, protective and long-lasting relationships, and who call this place home,” Paul said. “I am thrilled, honored and humbled by the responsibility and opportunity this new position presents. Our industry has experienced a period of rapid and radical evolution. In the last five years, we have transitioned from a company principally focused on broadcast television into a multiplatform studio, with an expanded production footprint and more than half of our programming premiering on cable (both premium and basic) and subscription/on-demand services. Susan and I intend to continue to build on that momentum, and with the exciting structural changes in our own backyard, we look forward to leading WBTV and WHSTV into a most exciting future.”
Rovner and Paul inherit a slate that also includes series at TNT, OWN, Netflix, Syfy, Epix, Freeform and National Geographic.
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