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Kevin Reilly Back In Talks For Top Turner Post

The on-again, off-again Turner-Kevin Reilly courtship is back on. Soon after Turner Broadcasting toppers broke off negotiations with the former Fox chairman two weeks ago, the two sides restarted conversations. I hear that Turner Broadcasting President David Levy’s string of meetings last week with prospective candidates to succeed  Steve Koonin included a sit-down with Reilly. There hasn’t been anyone else to emerge as a serious alternative for the post in the past two weeks, though there had been a few names thrown in the mix, including former NBC chief Jeff Gaspin.

Image (2) KevinReilly__130802001654-275x212__140529231405.jpg for post 737686I hear Reilly explored some possibilities in the digital space before rekindling his interest in the Turner double vacancy. The company has not replaced longtime Turner Entertainment Networks President Koonin, who left in April, and TNT and TBS President of Programming Michael Wright, who departed at end of August. I hear Turner Broadcasting had been looking for an executive to essentially handle both jobs (some of Koonan’s responsibilities had been transferred to Levy some time ago.) 

I hear the nature of the combined position, which includes development and programming duties, and the reporting structure, with the new person reporting to Levy — the longtime head of Turner Ad Sales and Sports who is valued by the company because he negotiates TNT and TBS’ big sports packages but has no programming experience — have been a sticking point, but the two sides are working on a compromise. According to multiple sources, Reilly and Turner might have a deal in sight, though they were in the same position a couple of weeks ago before talks went south.

Reilly had been identified as a top choice for the Turner job the moment he announced his exit from Fox in May, embarking on months of on-and-off discussions with the Turner leadership.

It is highly unusual for networks of the caliber of TNT and TBS to be without a leader for such a long period. I hear Turner Broadcasting’s EVP and head of business affairs Sandra Dewey has stepped in to run the networks day-to-day, with SVP Scripted Development Brett Weitz, the highest-ranking programming executive at the networks at the moment, weighing in on programming decisions such as pilot pickups.

Making things even more challenging for TNT and TBS are Time Warner’s recently imposed layoffs, which call for Turner Broadcasting to cut 10% of its workforce, eliminating 1,475 jobs. The massive reduction has affected such areas as marketing, PR, research, strategy and other divisions that support the networks’ programming.

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7 Comments

  1. Jim Dandyon Oct 30, 2014 6:33 pm

    Reilly is what they need over there. Experienced, prone to some risk taking, organized and efficient. Fox’s development and subsequent schedule will show how his seasoning will be missed, as David Madden is just a figurehead and not a programming. Fox is just pumping development deals into the network without filter nor strategy.

    • Albinon Oct 30, 2014 10:53 pm

      Thanks for checking in, Kevin. We know how well you respond to being canned, as you spent you entire failed reign at Fox trying to get even with NBC for firing you, which wound up sinking your own network.

      Maybe you can spend your time at Turner trying to get back at Fox. And then spend your time at Hulu trying to get back at Turner. And then spend your time at In-N-Out trying to…

  2. Albinon Oct 30, 2014 10:50 pm

    Some recent examples of Kevin Reilly’s programming skills:

    The Mindy Project, Utopia, Gracepoint, Mulaney, and the fact that Fox now finishes in SIXTH place on Tuesday nights.

  3. on Oct 31, 2014 5:34 am

    Bloody poor job by the search firm. They ought to give the money back.

  4. on Oct 31, 2014 8:12 am

    Hysterical…Turner can’t find suitable replacements interested in the job and Reilly can’t find suitable new jobs to take…sounds like a marriage of convenience which is bound to lead to success…eyeroll

  5. Joe The Policemanon Oct 31, 2014 9:47 am

    Just say no!

  6. on Oct 31, 2014 12:57 pm

    I think Reilly’s the perfect choice for this and so does TW which is why his name keeps re-emerging. Reilly is better suited to cable and a bit more autonomy that this position will give him. As for structure, it was just a matter of time before TW understood that NO candidate wanted to work under Levy and that’s easily solved — make him take a step back or pay him to leave. As for the sports franchise contracts? Money closes those deals, not Levy. Just get it done already.