Longtime Turner programming executive Michael Wright is switching from the small to the big screen.
It didn’t take Wright -- who has been serving as president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies -- long to find a new gig, as he was named CEO of DreamWorks Studios. Wright, who has not worked in theatricals, will succeed outgoing DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider. He will start his new gig on Jan. 3, 2015.
“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Michael for many years and have come to know him as a talented executive whose creative vision, leadership, and passion are a perfect fit for our company,” said DreamWorks chairman Steven Spielberg, to whom Wright will report. “He has a keen understanding of storytelling and how to deliver those stories in every shape and size, regardless of platform. I am delighted to welcome him to DreamWorks Studios.”
Miniseries Into the West and drama Falling Skies emanated at Amblin and then onto TNT's air. The studio, working in conjunction with TNT Original Productions, is slated to premiere Public Morals on the service next year.
Wright will not be involved in DreamWorks television unit, Amblin Television, which will continue to be headed by Daryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
A contender to replace Steve Koonin, who left as the head of Turner Entertainment Networks last spring to become CEO and an equity player with the NBA”s Atlanta Hawks, Wright seemed to be under fire when Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes said during an earnings call with analysts in April that he was not satisfied with TNT’s ratings performance and that it hadn't taken enough creative risks.
Instead, Wright’s departure comes as TNT topped cable’s Nielsens this summer, buoyed by Michael Bay’s The Last Ship and strong performances by mainstays Rizzoli & Isles and Major Crimes.
Wright’s Turner tenure was highlighted by the development of The Closer, the Kyra Sedgwick procedural that ranked as basic-cable top ratings performer in its day, as well as the acquisition of The Big Bang Theory, a syndicated, stacking gambit that helped push TBS well up the Nielsen charts in primetime.