In a month rife with executive shake-ups, former president of ABC Entertainment and, most recently, VP of original content at Netflix Channing Dungey has been appointed as chairman of Warner Bros. TV Group, set to replace outgoing longtime WBTVG executive and television industry veteran Peter Roth in early 2021.
Roth’s departure was announced on Friday afternoon (Oct. 16), with speculation rife that Dungey was frontrunner to move into the role — a spot that was previously seen as belonging to Susan Rovner, who officially split from Warner Bros. Television as its co-head to take on the newly created role of head of content for NBCUniversal’s television and streaming unit. Rovner had been with WBTV for more than 20 years.
“This is a homecoming of sorts for Channing, who was a production executive at Warner Bros. early in her career, and we’re excited to have her rejoin the studio,” said WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff, to whom Dungey will report. “Channing is one of the most talented, visionary, creative and respected executives working in television today. She has impeccable taste, a breadth of experience covering all platforms and genres, incredible relationships across the creative community and a keen sense of what’s next and how best to get it to audiences. She’s a great choice to lead the Television Group as it continues to grow its production operations for HBO Max, while also maintaining its standing as the industry’s leading independent supplier of programming to all outlets.”
Upon her hiring at Netflix in December 2018, Dungey was tasked with setting a strategic direction for its originals slate, including some of the company’s overall deals with prolific producers such as Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, Kenya Barris, Steven DeKnight, Marti Noxon and the Obamas’ prodco, Higher Ground Productions.
During her 15-year stint at ABC, she spent the last three of those years as president of the network, bringing American Idol to its roster. Before ABC, she collaborated with Pamela Post to form Dexterity Pictures, a production partnership focused on making studio and independent films, and developing television series. She also held positions at Material and Warner Bros., joining its drama development department in 2009.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the company at such a pivotal time in its history and look forward to working with my new colleagues at Warner Bros. and across the Studios and Networks Group to build on the incredible work of my predecessor, Peter Roth,” said Dungey in a statement. “This is such an electric time in our industry, and we have so much opportunity available to us between Warner Bros.’ core businesses and HBO Max, I cannot wait to dive in.”
Outgoing chairman Roth joined the company in 1999, coming on board as president of Warner Bros. Television after a stint at Fox Entertainment as president and at Twentieth Network Television. During his more than two-decade run at Warner Bros. overseeing the studio’s TV production business, 32 scripted primetime series developed during his tenure reached the 100-episode milestone — among them, The Big Bang Theory, The West Wing, Two and a Half Men and Gilmore Girls.
In his post, Roth was tasked with leadership and creative responsibility for Warner Bros.’ television production activities, including domestic production of scripted, unscripted and alternative series for U.S. broadcast networks, cable and streaming services. Among the unscripted franchises that emerged during his tenure are such staples as NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s The Bachelor among many others. At the start of this year, the combined divisions of the Warner Bros. Television Group — including live-action scripted series, animation, and unscripted and alternative programs — were producing more than 115 series in the U.S.
In February, Roth — at that point, president and chief creative officer for the group since 2012 — signed a contract extension and was named the first-ever chairman for the division.
In August of this year, Warner Bros Television Group consolidated its scripted and unscripted operations, with physical production, business affairs and finance for unscripted programming combined to service Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, Telepictures and Shed Media. Mike Darnell, president of unscripted and alternative television, was chosen to run all three labels, reporting to Roth, in a move that saw the exit of Telepictures EVP and GM Donna Redier Linsk exit the company.
(With files from Jillian Morgan and Frederick Blichert)