HBO Veteran Nancy Lesser Departs As EVP Of Media & Talent Relations

By Nellie Andreeva, Denise Petski


After 35 years, one of the HBO’s most senior and most recognizable PR executives, Nancy Lesser, is leaving the network where she currently serves as EVP of Media and Talent Relations.

Lesser revealed the news in a note to staff Wednesday, which she ended by quoting her friend, the late producer Jerry Weintraub, who worked on several HBO programs in the last years of his life: “This much I knew. As soon as you feel comfortable, that’s when it’s time to start over.” You can read her note in full below the story.

Lesser, a well liked PR executive with a unique sense of style, reported to Quentin Schaffer, who in July announced his resignation as EVP Corporate Communications for HBO after 39 years with the company. They are among a number of HBO veterans, led by chairman and CEO Richard Plepler, to depart following the approval of AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and the subsequent reorganization of WarnerMedia’s entertainment and direct-to-consumer operations under Bob Greenblatt.

Lesser has played an integral part in the development of HBO’s media relations strategy since 1984, when she joined the company as senior publicist, Media Relations in New York. In 1985, she was promoted to director, Consumer Press Information, responsible for media coverage of HBO’s original productions, and was later named director, Original Program Publicity for HBO and Cinemax. In February 1994, she moved to Los Angeles where she was promoted to VP, Media Relations, West Coast. In October 2000, she was elevated to SVP, Media Relations, West Coast. She became SVP, West Coast Media Relations and Talent Relations in 2008 and EVP in 2016, responsible for overseeing both media and talent relations operations on both coasts.

Over the years, Lesser oversaw the media campaigns for such projects as: Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, Angels in America, The Pacific, Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects, True Detective, Game Change, Recount, The Normal Heart, Behind the Candelabra, Game of Thrones and numerous others.

“Nancy was one of the first communication executives that I met when I moved to Los Angeles more than 26 years ago,” said Kevin Brockman. EVP Global Communications, WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-To-Consumer. She was a force of nature then, and she is a force of nature now. She has built an amazing team at HBO and I’m proud to now work alongside them as we move towards the future. I’m sure that whatever adventures await Nancy in her next chapter, they will be as rich and rewarding as her time at HBO.”

Before joining HBO, Lesser served as public relations director for Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. She also worked at ICM in the classical music division.

“HBO has been a truly wonderful home for me for the last 35 years,” said Lesser. “I have had the distinct privilege of overseeing the most creative, dedicated and smartest communications team in television. Additionally, I have been extremely fortunate to be involved with some of the most groundbreaking and relevant programming and to have worked alongside the exceptional talent who created and executed these memorable shows. As I move on from HBO, I will be cheering the ongoing successes of this remarkable company as it continues to lead the industry as the gold standard.”

Lesser, who indicated in her note to colleagues that this marks just an end of a (long) chapter in her career, which will be followed by a new one, got a nice sendoff during the recent Primetime Emmy Awards where she was acknowledged in Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ acceptance speech for the show’s best drama series win.

Here is Lesser’s note:

To: HBO Staff
From: Nancy Lesser

I have always believed that HBO is more than just a special place – it is, in fact, a place unlike any other. I know this because in 1984, as a newly hired senior publicist in New York, I came to the company with the intention of staying just two years to earn the corporate credit on my resume. Little did I know, or even expect, that those two years would surprisingly turn into thirty-five; and become the most meaningful and satisfying time in my professional career. This journey has been an extraordinary one, where I had the great pleasure and privilege of working with the most impressively creative and dedicated people at every level in every department. The long-standing relationships that were built, the teamwork that is pervasive throughout the company, and the unique sense of family have always been an inspiration to me.

In 1994, I traded coasts and relocated to LA with the unwavering support of my exceptional leaders Richard Plepler and Quentin Schaffer (my boss of 28 years), who entrusted me to expand the media relations and talent relations department into one of unparalleled excellence. The camaraderie and bonds formed among this incredible group – east coast and west coast – are emblematic of the HBO spirit and one that I have been so fortunate and proud to be a part of for so many years.

During my tenure, I had the enviable opportunity to work with outstanding producers, writers, directors, and actors; and to oversee so many exceptional, significant and award-winning projects, such as Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, Angels in America, Big Little Lies, Game Change, Recount, The Normal Heart, Behind the Candelabra and Game of Thrones. These, and numerous others, had an enormous impact on the television landscape and were programs for which I was so grateful to have been involved.

As I now move from HBO to my new chapter, the deep-seeded relationships and richly-valued experiences will continue to always be a vital part of my world.

As my dear friend Jerry Weintraub so wisely advised… “This much I knew. As soon as you feel comfortable, that’s when it’s time to start over.”

A Cum Laude graduate with a BS degree in Interior Design and Art History from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Lesser also holds a teaching degree in music education and voice from the Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts.

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