HBO welcomed its new corporate leader to the fold on Tuesday with the help of some big stars.
Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones,” Sarah Jessica Parker (“Divorce”), Danny McBride (“Vice Principals”) and Bill Hader (“Barry”) popped up in a video introduction to John Stankey, the newly minted head of WarnerMedia. Stankey was joined on stage by HBO chief Richard Plepler for an hour-long town hall at the premium cable channel’s Manhattan headquarters.
HBO, along with the staff at Warner Bros. and Turner, is trying to get a handle on Stankey. He has been tasked with integrating the entertainment company into the AT&T family after the telecommunications giant completed its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. The company has been re-named WarnerMedia.
Similar town halls will take place on Warner Bros.’ Burbank lot on Wednesday and at Turner’s Atlanta headquarters on Friday. Warner Bros. Communications chief Dee Dee Myers will moderate the Wednesday panel, which will also include Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will emcee Friday’s light grilling.
Stankey was well-received, according to two people in the audience, coming off, in the words of one, as a personable “straight shooter.” He got big applause at one point in the panel after promising to invest in strengthening HBO’s slate of hit series and buzzy movies.
But the video stole the show. Plepler took the stage saying that before Stankey spoke he wanted to field some pre-taped questions from HBO employees. That’s where Clarke, Parker, and Hader came in. Stankey also received “questions” from Danny McBride (“Vice Principals”), Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”), Bill Maher (“Real Time”), Tony Hale (“Veep”), James Franco (“The Deuce”), and Kit Harrington (“Game of Thrones”). The video ended with “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” Larry David said something cheeky indicating that he had no interest in posing a question for a corporate video.
It was a show of star power that might leave HBO’s WarnerMedia cousins sweating. Maybe tomorrow Warner Bros. will bust out Batman to greet Stankey.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.