Warner Bros. on Monday named veteran programmer Channing Dungey as incoming chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group, succeeding Peter Roth, who announced late last week that he was leaving the prolific television studio after 22 years.
The move, which will take effect early next year, comes amid a dramatic management makeover for the venerable Burbank studio and its parent company, WarnerMedia.
The company has been in flux since 2018 when telecommunications giant AT&T took over the entertainment assets, including HBO, CNN and TBS. Upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and enormous shifts in viewing behavior, Warner Bros. also has been undergoing a painful restructuring, which has resulted in hundreds of layoffs. The company has signaled that it will place less emphasis on its legacy businesses and focus its energy on boosting the fortunes of its nascent HBO Max streaming app.
Warner Bros.’ hiring of Dungey was expected. Earlier this month, she stepped down from her role as vice president of original series at Netflix, where she worked for nearly two years. Before joining Netflix, Dungey was president of ABC Entertainment, where she was responsible for development, programming and marketing for the Walt Disney Co.-owned network’s prime-time lineup and its late-night block, which includes ” Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Dungey became the first Black president of a major TV network when Disney tapped her to lead ABC Entertainment in 2016. While at Disney, Dungey championed such ABC shows as “Scandal,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “black-ish,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “American Idol” and “The Good Doctor.”
Earlier in her career, Dungey spent five years as a production executive at Warner Bros.
“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,” Dungey said 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.”
Warner Bros. Television has long been the most respected TV studio in the industry and a cash cow for the company. The studio is the engine behind such mega-hits as “The Big Bang Theory,” “Friends” and “The West Wing.”
Dungey will report to Ann Sarnoff, who became chair and chief executive of the WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group in August.
“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,” Sarnoff said in a statement. “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.”
In May, former Hulu chief Jason Kilar took charge of the storied media assets as CEO of WarnerMedia. In August, he stunned the industry by consolidating its Burbank-based entertainment division into a single division, which Sarnoff oversees.
For decades, Warner Bros. movie and TV studio operated separately from HBO, TBS, TNT and other channels. Now, Warner Bros. Television Group is a unit within the new Studios and Networks Group, which includes HBO and HBO Max, the WB Pictures Group, Warner Bros. TV, the DC superheroes, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TBS, TNT and TruTV.
(Article written by Meg James)