WarnerMedia Entertainment Hires Netflix’s Kristy Chan as VP of Publicity for TNT, TBS and truTV

Former Netflix executive Kristy Chan has been named VP of publicity for TNT, TBS and truTV. Chan will oversee a team of publicists and spearhead marketing for the linear networks’ originals, acquisitions, late-night, scripted and unscripted programming. She reports to Jori Arancio, EVP of Communications for HBO Max, TNT, TBS and truTV.

Kristy Chan

“Kristy is a great leader, creative thinker and excellent communications strategist,” Arancio said in a statement. “Her big, bold ideas align with the brand promises of TNT, TBS and truTV and it’s wonderful to have her overseeing the communications efforts for these critical networks.”

Chan comes to the Turner Networks from Netflix where she served as director of original series publicity. As the head of a publicity team focusing on young adult, family and Shondaland content, Chan oversaw all publicity strategies for series including “13 Reasons Why,” “Sex Education,” “Bridgerton,” “Inventing Anna” and “Locke & Key.”

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Prior to Netflix, Chan held the position of VP of Publicity and Awards Strategy for Universal Television and Universal Television Alternative Studio, which are both divisions of NBCUniversal. There she led publicity efforts, special events and award campaigns for award-winning television series such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Will & Grace,” “The Mindy Project,” “30 Rock,” “House,” “Heroes,” “Smash” and “World of Dance,” among others.

Earlier in her career, Chan was manager of publicity at MGM Home Entertainment, where she masterminded DVD publicity efforts behind new releases, catalog titles, family products and acquisitions, such as Legally Blonde 2, West Side Story Special Edition, the 40th Anniversary of The Pink Panther and Bowling for Columbine, among others.

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WarnerMedia Entertainment Promotes Jackie Gagne, Richard Jennings

WarnerMedia Entertainment announced the promotion of Jackie Gagne from VP of multicultural marketing at HBO, to SVP of multicultural marketing, and Richard Jennings from VP of design and production at HBO, to SVP of design and production, effective immediately.

Gagne and Jennings are based in New York and will continue to report to Lucinda Martinez, EVP of multicultural marketing, brand and inclusion strategy for WarnerMedia Entertainment.

Jackie Gagne

Since the consolidation of the brand, multicultural, international, and design and production teams into one department earlier this year, the group has overcome a variety of challenges in order to support WME’s strategic priorities and the demands of an increased portfolio.

For the past six years, Gagne has been instrumental in establishing HBO’s multicultural marketing strategy. From “Game of Thrones” and “2 Dope Queens” to “Insecure” and “On the Record,” Gagne has overseen an extensive list of audience-led, culturally relevant campaign initiatives and targeted brand experiences. Her team was recently named a “Center of Expertise” within WarnerMedia, and has begun sharing best practices across the company’s brand portfolio.

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In addition to supporting HBO’s programming franchises, Gagne has used the multicultural platform to amplify diverse voices and uplift storytellers through a variety of initiatives, including HBO POV, which celebrates the diversity of the behind-the-scenes talent that brings HBO’s programming to life; the HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries short film competition for emerging directors of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent; and most recently, the “Our Stories to Tell” campaign, aimed at engaging and servicing diverse audiences through multicultural programming and relatable storytelling.

In her expanded role, she will lead the launch of audience hubs on HBO Max designed to super-serve various multicultural audiences later this year.

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“It gives me great pleasure to announce the promotion of Jackie Gagne,” Martinez said. “Jackie’s strategic thinking, proven track record, and collaborative spirit, will continue to bring tremendous value to our team as we work towards building an inclusive brand narrative across the WarnerMedia Entertainment portfolio.”

Richard Jennings

Jennings was recruited to HBO from Warner Music Group, in 2013, to rebuild the design and production group and services. The team services HBO, HBO Max, and Max Originals, as well as partners and collaborates with all WarnerMedia verticals. Currently, the team is partnering with AT&T to develop assets for the launch and ongoing creative support for the Discovery District in Dallas.

“Richard’s passion for his work and his team is a testament to the standard of excellence and brand integrity you see evident throughout their work,” Martinez said.

In the fall of 2019, Richard earned an MFA in Graphic Design. In his new expanded role, Richard will oversee environmental design for WarnerMedia Entertainment (Hudson Yards, Burbank, Santa Monica, Ivy Station and Seattle), internal key art design resources across the portfolio, HBO Max merchandise production, design standards and style guides.

Christina Sulebakk to Become GM of HBO Europe

Priya Dogra, new president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks for EMEA and APAC, isn’t wasting time making executive changes. WarnerMedia July 9 announced the appointment of Christina Sulebakk as GM of HBO Europe, including linear networks and the streaming service, effective immediately. Sulebakk reports to Dogra.

She replaces Hervé Payan who served as CEO of HBO Europe for eight years and who will be leaving the company at the end of August 2020.

“Christina is a tremendously talented executive who has been integral to the success of HBO Europe,” Dogra said in a statement. “She has a deep understanding of direct-to-consumer businesses and has played a pivotal role in the development of our international plans. She will be a key force in driving our growth in Europe.”

Dogra thanked Payan for his years of service to HBO Europe, including his vision launching streaming video offerings in key markets in Europe.

“I’ve personally worked closely with Hervé over the past few years and I’ve appreciated his entrepreneurial spirit, his focus on innovation and good sense of humor,” she said.

Sulebakk has been at HBO Europe for more than eight years, most recently serving as EVP, CMO and head of distribution. During her years at HBO Europe she has been expatriated to Madrid, Budapest and New York and has played pivotal roles in transforming the Central European business into streaming and launching HBO España.

Priya Dogra Named President, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, EMEA and APAC

WarnerMedia July 6 announced the appointment of Priya Dogra as president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks for EMEA and APAC. Dogra replaces Giorgio Stock, who stepped down at the end of June. She will continue her responsibilities as EVP of strategy of corporate development for WarnerMedia — reporting to Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.

In her new position, Dogra will have executive oversight and responsibility for programming, advertising, distribution and operations of the WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, which include the basic Turner and premium HBO networks in Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

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Dogra will share responsibility for the kids business in EMEA and APAC with Tom Ascheim, who was recently named president of global kids, young adults and classics at Warner Bros.

“Priya is a world-class executive who has been driving WarnerMedia’s overall corporate growth initiatives and in particular our direct-to-consumer-strategy internationally,” Zeiler said in a statement. “Her leadership, passion and knowledge of our international businesses will make an immediate impact on our organization.”

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Dogra has been with the company since 2009, including previously as head of mergers and acquisitions for Time Warner. Prior to joining Time Warner, Dogra was a VP in the technology, media and telecom investment banking group at Citigroup.

Tricia Melton Named Chief Marketing Officer, Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics

WarnerMedia has named former Time Warner marketing executive Tricia Melton chief marketing officer of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics. Melton reports to Tom Ascheim who, as previously announced, is joining Warner Bros. June 15 as president of Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics.

Melton will lead the global marketing and brand strategy for the new Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics division, which includes Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang (all previously overseen by Michael Ouweleen, who was recently promoted to president of Adult Swim), as well as Warner Bros. Animation (television) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

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She will be responsible for all marketing aspects, including brand management, creative, social and integrations, across all platforms. Additionally, she’ll work collaboratively across all of Warner Bros. and the entire WarnerMedia organization in support of key franchises and properties. Melton will be based at the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank and begin working remotely on June 29.

“Tricia is creative, strategic and ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation in marketing,” Ann Sarnoff, chairperson of Warner Bros. Entertainment, said in a statement. “We’ll look to her expertise and experience to help us shape our overall messaging and consumer outreach as we formally launch a unified kids, young adults and classics business at Warner Bros.”

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Melton joins Warner Bros. from Freeform, where, as SVP of marketing, brand, creative and communications, she led the marketing vision for the network and spearheaded its successful strategic repositioning as a progressive, multi-platform, young adult brand.

Prior to Freeform, Melton served as SVP of entertainment marketing and branding for TBS, TNT and TCM. In that role, she led high-profile, innovative and award-winning marketing initiatives for cable fan favorites, including “Conan,” “The Closer,” “The Last Ship,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Falling Skies” and “Dallas.”

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Stepping Down; John Stankey Taking Over

In a surprise, AT&T April 24 announced Randall Stephenson is stepping down from his CEO position on June 1, to be replaced by COO John Stankey, former CEO of WarnerMedia Entertainment.

After serving 13 years as chairman and CEO, Stephenson, 60, will serve as executive chairman of the board of directors until January 2021 to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Stephenson’s career saw the telecom acquire satellite operator DirecTV and then spend even bigger ($85 billion) purchasing Time Warner, including Warner Bros., HBO and Turner. The acquisitions ballooned AT&T’s debt and caused headaches such as the failed DirecTV Now online TV platform (now called AT&T TV), and allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct against former Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

In addition, consumers are increasingly moving away from traditional linear pay-TV — a reality underscored by AT&T losing almost 900,000 pay-TV subscribers through March 31. With the coronavirus pandemic shuttering Hollywood production, free cash flow may be rising, but WarnerMedia’s markets are shrinking — most notably at the box office.

Stankey’s comments regarding a probable sluggish theatrical market after restrictions are lifted prompted Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff to respond by telling the media the studio still supported exhibitors and the traditional 90-day box office window.

President Trump didn’t wait to tweet his opinion, calling Stephenson’s departure “great news!” in reference to WarnerMedia’s ownership of CNN, which the president often clashes with.

“Randall Stephenson, the CEO of heavily indebted AT&T, which owns and presides over Fake News @CNN, is leaving, or was forced out. Anyone who lets a garbage ‘network’ do and say the things that CNN does, should leave ASAP. Hopefully replacement will be much better!” Trump wrote.

Stankey’s selection as AT&T’s next CEO completes the final phase of a succession planning process that AT&T’s board began in 2017, which included a thorough evaluation of internal and external candidates.

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The telecom said it engaged in an extensive five-month search process to ensure that the company’s next CEO possessed the “vision, experience, talent and leadership” qualities necessary to deliver on AT&T’s strategic plans.

“Leadership succession is one of the Board’s most important responsibilities,” AT&T director Beth Mooney said in a statement. “After an extensive evaluation, it was clear that John Stankey was the right person to lead AT&T into the future.”

Stankey, 57, has served as president and COO since October 2019. He joined AT&T in 1985 and has more than 30 years of accomplished leadership spanning nearly every area of AT&T’s business, from corporate strategy and technology, to operations and media and entertainment.

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Stankey has served in a variety of roles, including: CEO of WarnerMedia; CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group; Chief Strategy Officer; Chief Technology Officer; CEO of AT&T Operations; and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions.

“I’m honored to be elected the next CEO of AT&T,” Stankey said in a statement. “My thanks go to Randall for his vision and outstanding leadership during a period of tremendous change and investment in the core capabilities needed to position AT&T well for the years ahead.”

Later this year, AT&T’s board will elect an independent director when Stephenson retires as executive chairman in January 2021.

AT&T Temporarily Closing 40% of Its Retail Stores

AT&T March 18 said it would shutter 40% of its company-owned retail stores in the United States in an effort to help curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The telecom giant has more than 16,000 domestic retail locations, including company-owned stores and kiosks, authorized dealers and third party retailers.

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The corporate parent to WarnerMedia Entertainment, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, said that of the stores remaining open, employees would practice social distancing guidelines authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization says there are more than 8,900 deaths and 217,000 infection cases attributed to the virus. In the U.S., the death toll stands at 135 with more than 2,000 infections.

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WarnerMedia Ups Michael Quigley to Lead Content Acquisitions

WarnerMedia Entertainment, in a restructuring, has promoted Michael Quigley to spearhead the media company’s direct-to-consumer business as well content acquisitions.

Quigley, who was EVP, content acquisitions, will now lead the unit with other promoted executives, Jonathan Melber, SVP of content acquisitions at HBO Max, and Royce Battleman, SVP of content acquisitions for HBO, Cinemax, TNT, TruTV and TBS, reporting to him.

“Michael and his team have the breadth and depth of experience required in today’s competitive marketplace to both land defining content and rewrite our rules for how content will move through all exhibition windows going forward,” Kevin Reilly, COO, HBO Max, and president, TBS, TNT and TruTV, said in a statement.

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Reilly credited Quigley and his team for enabling HBO Max to launch in May with coveted series such as “Friends,” “South Park,” and “Doctor Who,” among others.

Other changes in the content acquisitions include HBO executives Leslie Cohen and Chris Grunden handling movies, while Valerie Meraz, SVP, content acquisitions & strategy at Turner in Atlanta, joins the two reporting to Battleman.

Elizabeth Bannan Atcheson, senior director of content acquisition at Turner, reports to Melber from Atlanta.

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“Our networks will continue to have hit series like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ as well as many of the most coveted major studio [titles], such as Joker and Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Reilly said in a statement.

WarnerMedia Inks Distribution Deal With YouTube TV

WarnerMedia Entertainment and YouTube TV Feb. 20 announced a comprehensive distribution relationship that will deliver the media company’s entertainment, sports and news network portfolio to YouTube TV’s more than 2 million online TV subscribers.

The pact expands upon the existing 2018 carriage agreement between the two companies for WarnerMedia networks TBS, TNT, truTV, CNN, HLN, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network to add access to the HBO and Cinemax services to the YouTube TV for the first time.

As part of a new deal, YouTube TV has also committed to distributing WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, the company’s upcoming direct-to-consumer offering debuting in May with 10,000 hours of curated content. HBO Max will offer programming for everyone in the home, bundling the entire HBO service, a slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and catalog fare from WarnerMedia’s library.

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“As consumers’ media consumption habits continually evolve and the landscape becomes more and more dynamic, our goal remains constant, and that is to make the portfolio of WarnerMedia networks available as widely as possible,” Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement.

Both linear and on-demand HBO and Cinemax content will debut on YouTube TV this spring for the first time. Included will be HBO’s extensive array of programming, which features titles such as “Watchmen,” “Big Little Lies” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” current and returning hit dramas “Succession,” “Westworld” and “The Outsider,” comedies “Barry, “Insecure” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and classics like “Game of Thrones,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Sex and the City.”

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Upcoming HBO releases this spring include returning favorites “High Maintenance” and “My Brilliant Friend” and upcoming limited series, “The Plot Against America,” “The Undoing” and “I Know This Much Is True.”

Cinemax will offer its slate of original series including “Strike Back,” which recently began its seventh season, along with “Trackers” and “Gangs of London”. Theatrical hits debuting on the network this spring include Boy Erased, First Man and Bad Times at the El Royale. 

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with WarnerMedia to deliver their family of networks that are popular among our members, as well as introduce HBO, Cinemax and HBO Max to our growing line-up of premium content,” said Lori Conkling, global head of partnerships at YouTube TV.

HBO Max Launches Video Ad Touting Content

Heading into the May launch of the $14.99 HBO Max subscription streaming service, WarnerMedia Entertainment has begun running ads on social media touting the platform’s content and the fact the series are not available on Netflix or Hulu.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner) has spent a billion dollars securing license rights away from third parties to “Friends,” “South Park,” “The Big Bang Theory,” The Matrix, Wonder Woman and The Lego Movie, among others.

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Notably missing: the “Harry Potter” franchise, which is under contract through 2025 to NBCUniversal. AT&T has said it plans to spend upwards of $4 billion on original Max content over the next few years. Netflix is spending more than three times that in 2020.

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