Another top executive shakeup at Sonar Entertainment. After weeks of rumors, the company announced today that CEO Gene Stein is leaving to pursue other opportunities. Thomas Lesinski, a member of Sonar’s board of directors, has been named interim CEO while the board conducts a search for Stein’s permanent successor. Veteran producer Stein took the helm of Sonar in May 2014 when Stuart Till abruptly stepped down as CEO.
This is the latest upheaval at an independent TV production company as many have been going through rough times. As had been the case for several others, there had been talk of financial issues at Sonar.
Under Stein, the company, known in the past mostly for long-form fare, shifted its focus to series and ramped up its output with shows which Sonar finances. That includes fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles, executive produced by Al Gough, Miles Millar and Jon Favreau, which will premiere on MTV in January and the Eli Roth-helmed series, South of Hell, produced by Blumhouse Productions, which will premiere on WE tv later this year. The company also has Taboo, starring Tom Hardy with Ridley Scott as executive producer, which is scheduled to begin shooting in London in November for BBC One and FX.
In the wake of Stein’s departure, Sonar’s creative affairs will be shepherded by Jenna Glazier and Tom Patricia. The company’s development slate includes Mr. Mercedes, based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel and adapted by David E. Kelley with Jack Bender directing; and The Son, based on the best-selling novel and Pulitzer Prize finalist by Philipp Meyer, which is set up at AMC with Kevin Murphy as showrunner. Additionally, Sonar has exclusive first-look deals with independent production companies Scott Free London, Killer Content and StoryBy Entertainment.
Lesinski has served on the Sonar board since 2013. He is the CEO and founder of Energi Entertainment and is the former President of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment and President of Worldwide Home Entertainment for Paramount. Prior to that, he was at Warner Bros for 10 years, last serving as EVP & General Manager of the Home Entertainment Division.