Television Showman of the Year

Peter Roth might not consider himself a showman, but the Warner Bros. Television prexy’s passion for the job is legendary. As are his hugs.

In an industry where business has taken precedence over creative, Roth is a throwback to an age when the focus was on the craft — rather than ways to exploit it.

Roth has headed up Warner Bros. TV since 1999, but he began his career at ABC in 1976 as a children’s TV exec before moving to primetime at the Alphabet. He later ran Stephen J. Cannell Prods., then 20th Century Fox TV and later Fox Entertainment, where he put hits like “Ally McBeal” on the air.

“I approach it with an absolute passion and lifelong love of television,” Roth says. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work in this business for 30 years, and I’m just as excited with television now as I was when I first started.”

Even as the writers’ strike rages on, Roth has scored several victories this season, including the launch of “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS and the recent big opening for “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” on Fox.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ CW drama “Gossip Girl” continues to generate buzz, particularly among the net’s core women 18-34 demo.

Under Roth, WBTV also has scored in basic cable, with shows like “Nip/Tuck” and “The Closer.” The recent addition of low-cost programmer Warner Horizon TV under Roth’s domain also has paid off, with primetime entries such as the upcoming return of the CW’s “Pussycat Dolls Present.”

“The basic challenge — creating compelling programming that viewers will want to watch — is the same as it ever was, but has taken on an even greater urgency with the sheer number of outlets available to consumers,” Roth says.

Once the strike is settled, Roth’s next challenge includes salvaging what he can of a limited pilot season.

“The evolution of the industry is one of the very things that continues to motivate me,” he says. “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in this business.”

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