In a surprising move, global film and television studio MGM has ousted its CEO of eight years, Gary Barber.
In a short statement issued yesterday (March 19), the company announced initiating a CEO transition, while forming an “Office of the CEO” to oversee day-to-day operations in the interim.
According to the company, the Office of the CEO will “have the active support of the Board of Directors, including members with extensive media and digital experience: Ann Mather, formerly of Pixar, Paramount Pictures and Disney; Fredric Reynolds, formerly of CBS and Viacom; Nancy Tellem, formerly of Microsoft/Xbox Studios and CBS; David Krane, CEO of Google Ventures; and James Dondero, CEO of Highland Capital Management.”
In the statement, Kevin Ulrich, chairman of the board of directors, said: “On behalf of MGM’s Board of Directors, I would like to thank Gary for his contributions and for leading MGM with the highest integrity over the last eight years. Gary has played a key role in the development and execution of our strategic plan, which laid an important foundation for MGM.”
No reason was given for Barber’s termination. According to the company, a business update will be provided during its scheduled earnings call on March 28.
The decision to remove Barber from the CEO post comes several months after MGM reupped his contract to 2022. In a statement released announcing the contract renewal, Ulrich said of Barber: “Gary is a dynamic leader and during the past seven years, MGM has regained its prominence as a leading entertainment company. He has developed a focused, strategic vision, which combined with a strong financial discipline, has positioned MGM for future growth and innovation. We have every confidence he will continue to lead this company in an exemplary fashion.”
Under Barber, MGM acquired Mark Burnett’s One Three Media JV with Hearst as well as Lightworks Entertainment, overseen by Roma Downey, and consolidated them under the United Artists Media Group banner. Burnett was subsequently named president of MGM Television and Digital Group, as Roma Khanna, who had held the post since 2011, stepped down. Burnett signed a five-year contract for the position in 2015, and reported directly to Barber.
“Combining all of our TV content efforts under the purview of this unparalleled chief is incredibly exciting,” said Barber at the time of Burnett’s appointment. “Additionally, we believe this synergistic transaction will be very accretive to MGM.”
That affiliation brought such unscripted juggernauts as The Voice, Shark Tank and Survivor under the MGM TV umbrella.
In April of 2017, MGM agreed to pay US$1.03 billion for Lionsgate and Paramount’s shares in premium pay TV network Epix.