Lori Openden is stepping down as EVP of Talent and Casting for the CW and retiring after more than 40 years in the business as a casting director and executive. She will be succeeded in the CW head of casting post by her longtime top lieutenant, Dana Theodoratos, currently SVP, Talent and Casting who oversee casting on all of The CW’s series, pilots and original scripted digital programming.
Openden, with Theodoratos by her side, has been at the CW since its launch in 2006, overseeing the network’s slate of pilots and series for the past 14 years. That includes the CW’s DC series, All American, Gossip Girl, Riverdale, Girlfriends, The Game, 90210, The Vampire Diaries and Jane the Virgin, which earned star Gina Rodriguez a Golden Globe, marking the first major acting award for The CW. Both joined from the CW predecessor UPN.
Openden served as SVP, Talent and Casting, UPN, since August 2005, working on such shows as Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris and Kevin Hill. She initially began working for UPN as a consultant and casting executive in July 2003.
From 1985 to 1999, Openden worked in the casting department of NBC, rising to the post of SVP, Talent and Casting. During her tenure, she was involved in casting Seinfeld, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mad About You, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, L.A. Law, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ER, Freaks and Geeks, and The West Wing. She also handled casting for over 500 longform projects at the network.
As an independent casting director, she worked on such series/pilots as Hill Street Blues, Cheers (starting in season three) and 8 Simple Rules as well as several made-for-television films for both broadcast and cable networks.
Theodoratos was elevated from VP to SVP, Talent and Casting, The CW in 2014. She came to The CW in 2006 from UPN, where she had risen through the ranks of the Talent and Casting department to become Director, supervising casting on several one hour dramas, and both multi-camera and single camera comedies. Among the series she worked on include Veronica Mars, starring Kristen Bell in her breakout role, Girlfriends, All of Us, Everybody Hates Chris and Kevin Hill, starring Taye Diggs.
From 1999 to 2002, Theodoratos was the Manager of Casting at Michael Ovitz’s television studio Artists Television Group.
“Under Lori and Dana’s guidance, discovering and showcasing rising new talent has been a hallmark of The CW brand since its inception, providing this network with a proud legacy of launching breakout stars that is second to none,” said Mark Pedowitz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CW Network. “With her vast experience and so many memorable casts and credits to her name, Lori has left an indelible mark on both this network and this industry, and we cannot thank her enough for all of her contributions. And as everyone here at The CW wishes Lori all of the best, we are extremely pleased to have Dana taking the reins and leading our casting efforts going forward, ensuring The CW’s tradition of assembling dynamic casts and breaking new talent will continue.”