Reality TV execs move to the front and center of leadership structure after merger

As Discovery and WarnerMedia prepare to close their $ 43B merger later this week, the focus will be on the impact of the deal on WarnerMedia’s film and scripted television business. There has been a lot of talk in the industry about the importance of Cassie Blaise’s scripted television empire and whether Toby Emmerich is still in charge. Batman Film studio.

The pairing with Warner Bros. TV boss Channing Dangi is expected to report directly to David Jaslav under the company’s new structure, which will be unveiled soon.

However, these fields, as high-profile, are associated with the business of Discovery, which is only involved with scripted TVs through the company’s initiative with Oprah Winfrey OWN. Meanwhile, it is unscripted television where the two merging companies have the biggest overlap and where resources will need to be merged.

It has basically gone under the radar of how Discovery, perhaps a company run entirely by reality television and Unscripted Axis, will combine numerous unscripted sections and cable networks across two groups, which will basically be fed by that non-fiction pipeline.

Apparently, the Discovery Execs have been silent until the deal closes, which is expected to come on Friday.

Kathleen Finch

Kathleen Finch

Kathleen Finch, currently Discovery’s Chief Lifestyle Brand Officer, where she oversees networks including HGTV and TLC, is expected to oversee the expanded network group, which now includes TNT, TBS and truTV, as well as Cartoon Network, TCM, Turner. There will be. Adult swimming and boomerang.

Sources suggest that Finch, who took on that role after the acquisition of Discovery’s Scripps Network in 2018, could oversee all of the company’s linear networks, including T-Net and the children’s group now run by former freeform boss Tom Asheim. .

Finch knows the linear landscape well; He began as a broadcasting journalist, spending 12 years on CBS Network News, before running programming on Food Network, where he created the series. Cake ace, And being president of HGTV and then of all the Scripps network.

“Kathleen fits the Discovery mold. He’s smart, he’s in New York, he’s newsworthy and he doesn’t have a profile, so he’s perfect, “said one observer.

He also credits Nancy Daniels as the “top tick” who oversees the Discovery Channel, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery and Factual, among others. Daniels is also likely to take on an extended role.

“David will take the side of those he knows,” added another source. Daniels has been with the company since 2007, joining Discovery’s West Coast Studio business development and production leadership. “Nancy is a survivor and she’s fine, despite not having commissioned a single return hit in a while.”

From the corporate side, Bruce Campbell, Chief Development, Distribution and Legal Officer, and JB Perrett, President and CEO of Streaming & International, are ready to play important roles.

Other chief executives in the Discovery universe who are expected to play a major role up front include Jane Latman, Howard Lee and Jason Sarlanis.

Latman, who has been with Discovery since 2003, runs HGTV and recently took control of the food network after President Courtney White left to launch her own production company. While HGTV and Food Network are not the sexiest of the television networks, they are the two most valuable, especially because of their reach to female viewers.

Lee, as president of TLC, is credited with the success 90 day engagement, Arguably the most valuable franchise of Discovery with many spinoffs. He is well-liked in the world of development and production, and the integrated group will marry another idea on that scale in one heartbeat.

He is expected to do well with Jason Sarlanis, a rising star in Discovery who has been in charge of crime and investigative content, linear and streaming bosses. Former ABC and E! There are such series as exec Keep up with the Kardashians Her biography and her growing influence have been significant over the past few years.

The big question about the WarnerMedia aspect of the equation is what it means for executives like Asheim, Brett Weitz, general manager of TNT, TBS and TrueTV, Corey Henson, who is the head of Unscripted for EVP and TBS, ONer, TNT and truTV and Jenif , Who is programming live-action kids on EVP, non-fiction and HBO Max.

Henson is behind the series like Reboot Wipeout, The Cube, Go-Big Show And Harry Potter: The Hogwarts Tournament of the HouseWarner Bros.-produced Helen Mirren-Fronted Contest series that has performed well for TBS and Cartoon Network.

FBoy Island

FBoy Island

O’Connell also had some hits on the streamer; Selina + Chef It was a quarantine production that was renewed for the fourth season, the ballroom competition. Legend Coming back for the third season and previously provocative titles FBoy Island Caused a lot of noise.

FBoy Island Maybe not Why CitizenBut it is their market, “said one source.

The source added that the merged company will probably create a merger unit that will purchase across its division, similarly ABC and Hulu now come under Rob Mills, and NBC, its sister wire network and Peacock Jenny Groom and Rod. Aisa, potentially overseeing it with Daniels.

One seller told Deadline that WarnerMedia Axis “did not officially cut the spigot, but there was a lot of push” because they were waiting to see what happened.

Then there’s the studio side. Channing Dangi will be in charge of Warner Bros. Television, and despite rumors circulating for months about Disney’s choice of Peter Rice, there doesn’t seem to be an executive level between Dangi, Blaise and Emmerich and Jaslav’s choice. A role.

But where does Mike Darnell, president of Unscripted and Alternative Television, fit into the puzzle? Discovery, which has never been a content seller, would probably prefer the studio to supply the Engaged Pipeline with more in-house production materials (although as a parody of the Discovery work-for-hire model, it already owns the shows that foreign producers make for it).

Some have suggested that Darnell Discovery may have a bigger role to play for Discovery Channels as well as selling to third-party networks and streamers, as well as the “crazy talent” behind the series, such as Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction And the Paris Hilton reality series Simple life It’s perfect for creating the kind of stunt programming that Discovery prefers.

However, others have warned that the mercury figure may not be suitable for a Jaslav-driven company.

Former NBC executive Jaslav, who is moving to Bob Evans’ infamous Hollywood home, is known to pay a price for loyalty, but several sources point to the fact that he judges all his executives through the prism of ‘what have you done for me’. Recently? ‘.

“Nothing will be strange [with this consolidation]. This is a tenant game in a tenant world. These people are not chaotic, they are ruthless in their transparency, “said a source.

“It’s funny that a real man is taking over the movie business,” added another.

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