WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service has a new face: Kevin Reilly, the veteran TV exec, most recently at Turner Broadcasting, has been hired to head content strategy at the service that is launching later next year.
The service is at the core of the digital strategy that WarnerMedia is pursuing since the company was formed earlier this year, the result of AT&T’s $85-billion acquisition of Time Warner. Not long after the acquisition was finalized, a new streaming service was announced, signaling how eager the company is to compete with rivals like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney in the content wars. Disney’s own entertainment streaming service is also launching at the end of next year. The WarnerMedia platform will include content from Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner.
By hiring Reilly, who oversaw programming at NBC, FX, and Fox before landing at Turner, WarnerMedia is bringing on an executive who is not only well-liked and forward-thinking, but who also will be able to smoothly settle into AT&T’s highly corporate culture. He also has a strong track record of working in the youth market. Under his leadership, the Turner brands TNT and TBS were reinvented from sleepy rerun channels to the home of buzzy, award-winning shows like Full Frontal With Samantha Bee and The Alienist. Reilly also oversaw an innovative digital distribution strategy at TBS. In 2017, the company launched all 10 episodes of Search Party, a dark comedy about self-absorbed millennials, on demand in order to encourage binge-watching. When the second season launched, TBS put the first season on its app, ad-free, allowing viewers to watch the show without the usual authentication from cable or satellite subscribers.
Reilly will continue to head content for Turner even as he oversees the new WarnerMedia app.
Bull, a TV show loosely based on the early life of Dr. Phil McGraw, is one of the most popular shows on network television. But there’s an ugly side to it that is just coming to light.
As the New York Times reported on Thursday, in the spring of 2017, series star Michael Weatherly lobbed a series of sexual remarks and jokes at guest star Eliza Dushku, who later confronted him about them and was subsequently written off the show. Although Dushku had only signed on for a three-episode arc, there were reportedly plans in the works to make her a series regular–a lucrative, high-profile, steady gig. When those plans were abruptly scrapped in the wake of the confrontation, Dushku took legal action.
“After she went through mediation with CBS, the company agreed to a confidential settlement that would pay her $9.5 million, roughly the equivalent of what Ms. Dushku would have earned if she had stayed on as a cast member for four seasons,” the Times story explains.
The revelation of this payout comes on the heels of recent reports about the network’s involvement in now-former chief executive Les Moonves’ sexual harassment (and worse) of at least 17 employees. Moonves was initially accused back in July, then was ousted from CBS, and now stands to lose his severance package, if not face further legal action.
When it comes to corporate culture, the fish rots from the head. The news about Dushku further indicates that the rot may have spread all over at CBS.