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Michael Wright to Exit Turner Broadcasting

Michael Wright, the president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), has decided to leave the company.

Wright was in the running to replace Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin, who departed in April, but pulled himself out of consideration and has since been pursuing other opportunities.

A source confirms he will be staying on at Turner while the search continues. Former Fox head Kevin Reilly is said to be in the running.

Wright’s exit comes during a time of turmoil at the company, which is facing headcount cuts. Earlier this week, Turner Broadcasting announced a voluntary buyout program for 6% of its U.S.-based employees.

TNT was the most-watched cable network this summer. It also had four of basic cable’s top 20 original series in adults 18-49 (“The Last Ship,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Falling Skies” and “Major Crimes”) — more than any other network and twice as many as it had last year. And the net was even more dominant in adults 25-54, with four of the top five scripted basic cable series, and in total viewers, with six of the top 10.

Throughout his tenure, Wright sought to bring big name showrunners and producers to the network, including Steven Spielberg, Frank Darabont, and Steven Bochco,

“I feel like with the evolution of TNT, we are creating an environment where we can do an even better job of co-mingling art and enterprise,” he told Variety this spring. “You have to make television that people both want to watch and make sense for the network from a business perspective. But you should also want to make TV that has really high creative aspirations. If you’re chasing the former too hard, it becomes harder to chase the latter. In a perfect world, you can do both.”

Wright joined TNT in 2002 and was named senior vice president of original programming for the network in 2004. Wright’s duties expanded to include TBS in 2005 and TCM in 2007, leading to his being named executive vice president, head of programming of TNT, TBS and TCM in 2008. He was named to his current position in May 2012.

Prior to joining Turner, Wright served as vice president of movies and miniseries for CBS Productions and CBS Entertainment.

 

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