WarnerMedia in Talks With Bob Greenblatt to Oversee Combined HBO, Turner

Bob GreenblattCreating Great Characters: Dick Wolf
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WarnerMedia is in talks with veteran television executive Bob Greenblatt for a possible role overseeing the company’s television-programming operations, including HBO and Turner.

Word of Greenblatt’s possible new role comes just days after the Justice Department’s last challenge to the acquisition of the former Time Warner by AT&T was rejected by a federal appeals court.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Greenblatt has had discussions with WarnerMedia chief John Stankey about a position that could potentially have him overseeing HBO, Turner, and WarnerMedia’s planned direct-to-consumer service. Talks with Greenblatt are part of larger internal conversations about a possible closer alignment of Turner — which includes the cable channels TBS and TNT, as well as Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and TruTV — and HBO.

Turner staffers have been bracing for changes since shortly after the AT&T deal was finalized. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey have been vocal in questioning why Time Warner kept Turner’s operations separate from HBO’s — and have publicly mulled funneling programming budget from Turner and into HBO.

Greenblatt’s possible arrival at WarnerMedia would have a significant impact on key executives, including current Turner chief David Levy, HBO boss Richard Plepler, and Kevin Reilly, who oversees content for Turner and WarnerMedia’s planned streaming service. Sources tell Variety that Greenblatt is interest in a role in which he would be hands-on with content and creators, given his background as a producer and programming executive.

Greenblatt exited his post as chairman of NBC Entertainment in September of last year after engineering a remarkable turnaround for the former fourth place network, which in recent years has done a far better job than other broadcasters of weathering industry-wide ratings declines. His reemergence as a candidate for a top job at NBCUniversal rival WarnerMedia, signals his likely dissatisfaction with the constraints purview at his former employer. Four months after Greenblatt departed, Variety learned that NBCU parent Comcast would reorganize its entertainment division around an in-the-works direct-to-consumer service, with top executives Mark Lazarus, Jeff Shell, and Bonnie Hammer gaining turf.