Michael Wright, who exited his post as CEO of Amblin Entertainment in September, has just been named President of the premium pay television network Epix. He will start in his new role on December 4 and report to MGM Chairman/CEO Gary Barber.
He replaces longtime Epix president/CEO Mark Greenberg, who had been at the helm since the company’s launch eight years ago, and left the post also at the end of September.
Wright, who has a long history in cable, having been President, head of programming for TBS, TNT, and Turner Classic Movies before he worked at DreamWorks/Amblin, will be responsible for shepherding Epix into its next phase of expanded original programming and lead creative and marketing efforts.
Business operations will continue to be overseen by Monty Sarhan, EVP and general manager at Epix. Sarhan will also work closely with Chris Ottinger, MGM’s President, Worldwide Television distribution & acquisitions on all distribution matters.
Wright’s arrival to Epix comes after MGM completed its nearly $1 billion buyout of Epix, which was formed in 2008 as a venture of MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount. It did so in April, agreeing to pay $1.03 billion for Viacom’s 49.8% interest and Lionsgate’s 31.2%.
MGM Television is currently in production in Montreal on its second series for Epix, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, based on the bestselling novel by Joël Dicker and starring Patrick Dempsey in his return to TV.
Early next year, MGM Television will begin production on the second season of Get Shorty, based in part on the 1990 best-selling novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard, starring Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd. Epix programming also includes the critically acclaimed series Berlin Station, Graves and the award winning docu-series America Divided with executive producers Norman Lear and Jesse Williams. In addition, it has Danica, about female racer Danica Patrick.
As CEO of Spielberg’s DreamWorks Pictures, Wright was hired to head the re-establishment of Amblin Partners, the joint venture teaming Steven Spielberg, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and eOne. He helped set the company’s distribution deal with Universal, as Spielberg watched Stacey Snider go to Fox and DreamWorks’ Disney deal come to a close.
Wright oversaw films such as Office Christmas Party, A Dog’s Purpose, The Girl on the Train and Ghost in the Shell and was tasked with developing a brand. He also helped in the development of The House with the Clock in its Walls with director Eli Roth and to star Jack Black. Although Wright exited the company, he will still receive executive producer on both Amblin’s The Talisman and The Wand.
During Wright’s tenure at Turner, he led TNT and TBS to the top of the cable charts for 10 consecutive years. Wright programmed some of the biggest hits on cable television, including The Closer, Into the West, Southland, Men of a Certain Age and Falling Skies for TNT, and Conan, My Boys, Cougar Town and Angie Tribeca for TBS. For TCM, Wright oversaw the development and production of the Emmy nominated documentary Moguls an Movie Stars: The History of Hollywood, the acclaimed TCM: A Night at the Movies franchise, and the Emmy winning AFI: Lifetime Achievement Award specials.
“We are thrilled to welcome Michael into the MGM family,” said Barber. “His television industry experience and creative instincts are the perfect combination to help us execute on our origina content strategy for EPIX and drive additional value creation for MGM overall.”