His exit comes amid a wave of layoffs across HBO parent WarnerMedia, which has impacted a number of veteran, high-level executives. It also continues a consolidation on the longform side at HBO over the past 18 months as that part of the TV business has been evolving.
Longtime HBO Films President Amato added miniseries and Cinemax oversight in April 2019 when 25-year HBO veteran Kary Antholis stepped down as President, HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming.
At the time, Cinemax already had started to wind down original programming, a process that is now in its final stages. On the film side, HBO has been moving away from original productions, like the Emmy-winning Recount and The Normal Heart toward acquisitions, like this year’s Emmy hopeful Bad Education.
Additionally, with lines between ongoing drama series and limited series increasingly blurring, Francesca Orsi, HBO’s EVP, programming and head of drama, has also been overseeing fiction-based limited series, like Big Little Lies and Watchmen. Amato has been shepherding nonfiction-based limited series like the recent The Plot Against America. All limited series will now be put under Orsi. Amato’s top lieutenant, SVP Tara Grace, will also report to Orsi and will continue overseeing original HBO films and film acquisitions.
“Len’s dedication and passion for the craft have attracted some of the biggest names in creative talent,” said HBO programming president Casey Bloys. “His contributions over the years have played a critical role in some of our finest programming. We truly wish him the best as he starts this next chapter.”
Upcoming nonfiction-based limited series, put together by Amato, include The White House Plumbers, to be directed by David Mandel and starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux, and Landscapers, to be directed by Alexander Payne and starring Olivia Colman.
With Amato at the helm, HBO Films won the Outstanding Made For Television Movie Emmy in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (Grey Gardens, Temple Grandin, Game Change, Behind the Candelabra, The Normal Heart and Bessie, respectively), for a total of 20 Best Movie Emmys since 1993. Behind the Candelabra, with 11 wins and 15 nominations, was the most-honored program at the 2013 Emmys.
Before becoming president, Amato served as HBO program executive and executive producer on 2008’s multiple Emmy-winning film Recount. The film began Amato’s association with director Jay Roach and writer Danny Strong who would later repeat their creative collaboration on Game Change.
Amato joined HBO in March 2007 as SVP, HBO Films, continuing his long relationship with the network which began in 1997 in New York when he produced Charles Dutton’s directorial debut First Time Felon, starring Omar Epps and Delroy Lindo; and executive produced Iron Jawed Angels, starring Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston in 2004. Amato appeared on the fourth season of the HBO series Project Greenlight.
“I’ll always cherish my experience at HBO, not only because there was no higher standard to aspire to artistically in television, but because the artists and colleagues I worked with were incredibly talented, dedicated and inspirational. I learned a lot and am forever grateful for such a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Amato.
Prior to joining HBO, Amato was president, Spring Creek Productions. His producer/executive producer credits include: Analyze This and Analyze That, Possession, Deliver Us From Eva, Rumor Has It, as well as the Oscar-nominated Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and The Astronaut Farmer, with Billy Bob Thornton.
Earlier, Amato was Story Editor for Robert De Niro’s then-newly formed Tribeca Productions in New York where he worked on such films as Michael Apted’s Thunderheart and Irwin Winkler’s Night in the City. Amato began his film career in New York as a story analyst for various independent producers and studios. Prior to his career in the film industry, Amato was a musician and actor.