Kevin Reilly sets TNT & TBS originals team
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Kevin Reilly Sets Leadership Teams for TBS and TNT Originals, Splitting Networks into Separate Units and Expanding In-House Production, First Steps to Position Networks for Significant Ramp-Up in Original Programming
Sandra Dewey Elevated to President, TNT and TBS Productions and Business Affairs, Overseeing the Expanded In-House Studio; Sarah Aubrey Hired to Head Up TNT Originals; and Brett Weitz Promoted to Lead TBS Originals
Kevin Reilly, the new president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment, has split the networks' original programming team into two separate units and set the leadership to oversee an aggressive original programming slate at both networks. Sandra Dewey, who will continue to oversee business affairs for the networks, is being elevated to president, TNT and TBS Productions and business affairs and will be responsible for running the expanded in-house production arm supplying the two networks. Reilly also recruited accomplished television and film producer Sarah Aubrey to serve as executive vice president of original programming for TNT and promoted Turner Broadcasting's Brett Weitz to executive vice president of original programming for TBS. All three executives report to Reilly.
"Over the next couple of years, we will continue to sharpen and evolve our brands by doubling down on original programming and being tenacious about our networks' value proposition," said Reilly. "These leadership appointments are the important first step in that direction. With Sandra overseeing business affairs and our growing slate of in-house productions, Sarah joining us to make TNT originals even more distinct and valuable and Brett focusing on both growing and further defining TBS originals, we have a great team of stewards to shepherd this transformation."
TNT and TBS Productions and Business Affairs
Sandra Dewey, who has worked in a legal capacity with Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros. for nearly 20 years, will manage TNT and TBS Productions, the in-house studio, as both networks begin to produce more of their own content. She will also continue to lead business affairs and production for several networks across the Turner portfolio, including TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, truTV and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), as well as for new media and advertiser-sponsored initiatives.
"I can't imagine a leadership team without Sandra," Reilly said. "She has a well-deserved reputation as a skilled negotiator with incredible business instincts who is both tough and fair. She will be a key architect going forward as producing more of our own content becomes a key element in our networks' business model."
Dewey has served as executive vice president, head of business affairs, for Turner Entertainment Networks and Cartoon Network Originals since 2012. During her tenure at the company, she has been heavily involved with the growth and strategic evolution of original programming, as well as its expansion in the global market.
Among Dewey's many achievements for Turner, she served as chief negotiator on the deal to bring Conan O'Brien to TBS. She also led the business deals behind TNT's outstanding slate of original series, including The Closer, the only series in basic cable history to rank #1 five years in a row; Rizzoli & Isles, which took over the top spot from The Closer in 2010; Falling Skies, the epic sci-fi adventure from Dreamworks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg; and basic cable's Top 2 new series of 2014, The Last Ship, from executive producer Michael Bay, and The Librarians, from executive producer Dean Devlin. Dewey's work has also included supervising the deals for TBS's Cougar Town; truTV's Impractical Jokers and The Carbonaro Effect; and Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, among many others.
In 2011, Dewey spearheaded the business model for TNT's first global series, Falling Skies, which has since gone on to be a worldwide success. Over the past three years, the success of Turner's programming on a global scale has since redirected the business to focus on the creation of high-profile content with international appeal.
Prior to joining the Time Warner family, Dewey was an associate at the law firm Greenberg Glusker, where she worked closely with Bert Fields.
Reilly's strategy for TNT is to sharpen the brand with a distinct slate of new programming aimed at a younger, more dual-gendered audience that expands the network's presence in the cultural conversation.
To build this new pipeline of originals, Reilly is bringing on Sarah Aubrey, who for the past decade has been partnered with Peter Berg in their production company, Film 44. Together with Berg, Aubrey has produced such projects as the acclaimed film and television series Friday Night Lights and the emotionally charged hit film Lone Survivor, based on the book of the same name, which is currently being developed into a series. The pair has also produced the action movies The Kingdom and Battleship, as well as three shows for HBO, including the acclaimed supernatural drama The Leftovers, which HBO has already picked up for a second season, and the sports documentary series On Freddie Roach and State of Play.
"I have personally known and worked with Sarah since we collaborated on Friday Night Lights at NBC almost nine years ago," said Reilly. "Sarah has that rare instinct with material and talent alike and will be a friend to the creative community. I cannot imagine a better person to bring a fresh new perspective to TNT."
Aubrey is an Austin native and former entertainment lawyer who earned her law degree at the University of Texas after graduating from Princeton University. In addition to her work for Film 44, she has produced Terry Zwigoff's irreverent hit comedy Bad Santa, which marked her first feature film credit, and the offbeat romantic comedy-drama Lars and the Real Girl.
For TBS, Reilly is planning a transformation of the brand, with a focus on making a new TBS that's a destination for originals marked by a bold sensibility and a network that's more digital and more socially driven. He has promoted Brett Weitz to lead TBS in expanding the slate of original shows across all platforms.
"I knew of Brett's excellent reputation in the creative community prior to joining the company, and it didn't take long for me to validate that first hand," said Reilly. "The new direction for TBS will be an exciting undertaking. The point of view of the network will be sharpened, and it will take a keen eye and seasoned hand to hit the target. I am very happy we have that in Brett to step up and fulfill that charter."
Weitz most recently served as senior vice president of development for TBS and TNT. He joined Turner Broadcasting in 2009 to work on original series development for TNT. He developed several hit dramas for the network, including Rizzoli & Isles and Falling Skies. His other credits include the multi-season dramas Dallas, Perception and Franklin & Bash. In addition, Weitz spearheaded the creation of the TNT's diversity program for series staffing.
Before coming to TNT, Weitz served as vice president of creative affairs for the fox21 Studios division of 20th Century Fox Television. In its first three years of operation, fox21 developed such series as TNT's Saved, the reality hit Beauty and the Geek and the comedy FreeRide. He also took on the challenge of finding alternative forms of development, searching for undiscovered talent and working with young and seasoned feature writers for cross-over opportunities for cable and broadcast television.
Weitz's other positions include serving as director of drama development for 20th Century Fox Television and, before that, as director of drama development for Columbia TriStar Television. And in 1999, he was part of the initial team that started up Michael Ovitz's Artists Television Group, where he served as director of creative affairs and later as television literary manager.
About TNT & TBS
TNT is television's destination for drama. Seen in 101 million households and ranking among cable's top networks, TNT is home to such original drama series as Rizzoli & Isles, Major Crimes, Falling Skies, The Last Ship, Murder in the First, Legends, The Librarians and Transporter The Series. TNT's upcoming slate of original scripted dramas includes Public Morals, Proof and Agent X. TNT also features such dramatic unscripted series as Cold Justice, On the Menu and the upcoming Wake Up Call. In addition, TNT is the cable home to popular dramas like Castle, Bones, Supernatural and Grimm; primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards®; blockbuster movies; and championship sports coverage, including the NBA and the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
TBS is basic cable's reigning champion among young adults in primetime. Available in 101 million households, TBS features original scripted comedies like Cougar Town, Ground Floor and American Dad!, as well as the upcoming Angie Tribeca, Your Family or Mine and Buzzy's. TBS also features original unscripted series like King of the Nerds, Deal With It, Funniest Wins and the upcoming Meet the Smiths, starring Kenny Smith and family. In late night TBS, is home to the Emmy®-winning series CONAN, starring Conan O'Brien. The TBS lineup also includes popular contemporary comedies, such as The Big Bang Theory and Family Guy, along with blockbuster movies and championship sports.
TNT and TBS are part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. Turner Broadcasting creates and programs branded news; entertainment; kids and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.