“Michael Wright, the president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), has decided to leave the company,” Variety reports.
The story reports: “Wright was in the running to replace Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin, who departed in April, but pulled himself out of consideration and has since been pursuing other opportunities.”
The article also notes that Wright “will be staying on at Turner while the search [to replace Koonin] continues.”
Says The Hollywood Reporter about the search: “According to multiple sources, top Turner execs have spent much of the summer vetting candidates, including seasoned TV execs from onetime Fox chief Gail Berman to former NBCUniversal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin to recently departed Fox Broadcasting chief Kevin Reilly.”
THR also notes: “Perhaps ironically, the news of the creator-friendly exec’s exit comes as TNT has had a particularly strong summer, debuting Michael Bay’s post-apocalyptic drama ‘The Last Ship’ ranking as the No. 1 scripted series among total viewers [and] adults 25-54, and the strong returns of staples ‘Rizzoli & Isles’ and ‘Major Crimes’ as well as a decent debut for Howard Gordon’s Sean Bean starrer ‘Legends.’
“During his run, Wright championed little-seen but critically beloved series including ‘Southland’ and ‘Men of a Certain Age.’ He created a brand predicated on big, commercial fare that includes series from ‘The Last Ship’ to veterans ‘Falling Skies’ and ‘The Closer’ spinoff ‘Major Crimes.’ His attempt for more serialized fare with Frank Darabont’s ‘Mob City’ didn’t fare as well, though in a July interview with THR, he noted he’d do it all over again.
“When asked about the biggest misconception of his network, he said: ‘That we don’t take chances. It’s not true. “Mob City” was a chance. It didn’t draw the audience, but I’d do it again tomorrow.’ ”
Wright, based here in Los Angeles, came to Turner from CBS in 2002 when he joined TNT.
Wright’s departure comes as Turner is reportedly about to eliminate perhaps more than 2,000 positions of the company’s total of 13,000 jobs. Jon Lafayette of B&C wrote recently: “A number of senior Turner executives have left the company since the tail end of last year, including CEO Phil Kent, Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin, Kids President Stu Synder, chief research officer Jack Wakshlag and CNN ad sales chief Greg D’Alba.”
And now Wright.