EXCLUSIVE: Feature executive Michael Ellenberg has joined HBO as SVP, HBO Entertainment. He will run the pay cable network’s drama department, reporting to HBO Entertainment president Sue Naegle and working closely with Gina Balian, also a newly minted SVP, HBO Entertainment. Balian, who has been at HBO for 10 years, is one of several drama executives who have recently been promoted, along with Francesca Orsi and David Levine, both of them upped to VP. The reorganization of HBO’s drama department was precipitated by the recent departure of VP Jocelyn Diaz. But instead of going for a direct replacement, HBO brass opted to bring in somebody senior to lead the drama department. As for going with a film vs. network executive, I hear the decision stemmed from HBO’s positioning as being in between TV and film and the need to have someone on board who knows well the players in the feature world as so many filmmakers are doing series for HBO these days, including Boardwalk Empire‘s Martin Scorsese, Luck‘s Michael Mann and Game of Thrones‘ David Benioff. Additionally, HBO’s development model is closer to features than to the traditional broadcast cycle.
Ellenberg spent the last four years at Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods as SVP. He just finished production of the Ridley Scott-directed Prometheus. He also worked on the company’s films Robin Hood and Cyrus, as well as such projects in development as The Passage with director Matt Reeves, Child 44 written by Richard Price, Shadow Divers with director Robert Schwentke, Red Riding and Forever War. Before Scott Free, Ellenberg spent three years at Scott Rudin Prods in Los Angeles as VP. Coincidentally, Rudin is a major series player at HBO where he has a deal and several projects in the works, including Aaron Sorkin’s drama pilot More As This Story Develops. Drama is having a resurgence at HBO, with both of the network’s new series, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, landing best drama Emmy nominations.