Callender Departs As HBO Films President


Colin Callender is leaving his job as president of HBO Films.

With the premium network since 1987, Callender, who was one of Britain’s top film and TV producers before joining HBO, said he will launch a new entertainment and content company, plans for which he will detail next year.

His spot will not be filled, as Kary Antholis will become president of HBO Miniseries, while Len Amato is now president of HBO Films. Both will report to to Michael Lombardo, president, programming group and west coast operations.

This marks the second major executive defection from HBO’s ranks this year: HBO Entertainment president Carolyn Strauss left her post in March, although she still has ties to the programmer.

Callender’s exit comes more than a year after HBO recast its executive suite in the wake of Chris Albrecht’s messy demise in May 2007 emanating from a physical altercation with his girlfriend after the Floyd Mayweather- Oscar De La Hoya Cinco De Mayo fight in Las Vegas, where the industry was convening for Cable Show '07. 

Callender was said to be in the consideration set for channel’s top spot, a position that was revamped into four-man executive team in June of that year, led by then COO Bill Nelson, who was named chairman and CEO. Nelson is supported by three co-presidents, counsel Harold Akselrad, marketing and distribution leader Eric Kessler and programming boss Richard Plepler. Under the restructuring, Lombardo, who had been executive vice president of business affairs, production and programming operations, assumed the second programming position under Plepler, and above both Callender and Strauss.

Callender departs with a highly decorated legacy. Under his tutelage, HBO Films scored an unparalleled 84 Emmy Awards, 26 Golden Globes, nine Peabodys, 12 Humanitas Awards and top honors at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Among the projects under his watch were Recount, which took three Emmys this year; the miniseries John Adams, which scored a baker’s dozen of Emmy statuettes last month; Iraq miniseries Generation Kill; telefilm The Gathering Storm; Mike Nichols’ acclaimed Angels In America; Miss Evers’ Boys; and Sundance winner Maria Full of Grace.

"This past year at HBO Films has been nothing less than extraordinary, and it's the perfect time for me to move on to a new challenge," said Callender in a statement. "My career has been shaped by the one constant in this industry - change - and for some time I've had a hankering to return to my entrepreneurial roots. With the industry in the midst of a major transformation, and coming off this great year, I can't think of a better time to launch my own company."

Noted Lombardo: "Colin's creative instincts and vision have brought HBO Films to an extraordinary position of prominence in the entertainment industry. The wealth of outstanding films and miniseries that Colin has spearheaded for HBO Films has given that area a signature stamp of prestige that has branded HBO. The only silver lining is that Colin will be leaving his portfolio in the hands of two very able executives in Len Amato and Kary Antholis, who will be stepping up to president, HBO Films and HBO Miniseries, respectively."