This is an end to a season at Warner Bros. Like Peter Roth, one of the best TV executives of the past few decades, will leave the independent television studio in early 2021 after 22 years.
Roth has elevated his current role as Chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group in February when he signed a one-year extension of his most recent summer contract in 2020. Thought as the final chapter in Roth’s Warner Bros. The TV tenure, whose course changed dramatically when, a month after Roth re-launched his deal, coronavirus disease hit, stopped production and all other important Hollywood activities, such as personal meetings, lunches, premieres and press junkets.
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Also taking the course correction is the plan under Warner Bros. TV. Roth’s leading lieutenant and heir, WBTV President Susan Rovner, surprisingly left the studio after 22 years to become Chair, Entertainment Content for NBCUniversal TV and streaming unit. Former ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, who stepped down from Netflix last week, is expected to replace Rovner as Roth’s successor.
Announcing Roth’s pending departure, Ann Sarnoff, Chairman and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, spoke about how its timing came about.
“Peter and I have been talking about this for quite some time, and while there was not a good time to say goodbye, he felt it was the right time to move on to a new leader for the group,” Sarnoff said. “He brought hundreds of shows, thousands of episodes and millions of viewers, with a single vision – to work with the best people and make the best television series. In addition to respect good of his colleagues and competitors, actors, writers, directors and producers, he is the driving force behind the iconic, pop-culture-defining television shows we all know and love, including The West Wing, The Big Bang Theory, Gilmore Girls, Two And A Half Men, Gossip Girl, Supernatural, The Flash and countless others. We are grateful for his contributions to our company and we wish him the very best. “
Roth is known for his close connection to talent. A number of bets he made on the creators had a huge payoff for the studio.
Shortly after joining Warner Bros., Roth made a big deal with Chuck Lorre post-Dharma and Greg, who did not produce more than one failed pilot until, in the final year of the agreement, Lorre delivered Two and a half Men. This was followed by The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, Mom, Young Sheldon at Bob Hearts Abishola on what has been the most successful – and enormously profitable – comedy slate in the past two decades.
There is no other talent relationship that means Roth’s tenure on WBTV is better than his partnership with Greg Berlanti. Also early in his tenure on WBTV, Roth took the child Dawson’s Creek writer who created / co-created two series for the studio, Everwood at Jack & Bobby for WB, before leaving for a general deal with ABC Studios.
Roth was determined to court Berlanti, and he did. Since Berlanti returned to WBTV, she has been the most prolific television producer, breaking many all-time records for most television series at once. Berlanti also built a vast DC universe covering linear TV and streaming. When the arm-race hit for talent in 2018, with Netflix’s top creators accompanying big general deals, Roth helped keep Berlanti and became the instrument in re-signing the showrunner in a mega pact.
“From the moment he called me in tears after reading the script for Everwood, until now – like countless others, I have been a beneficiary of Peter Roth’s unparalleled passion for great tv and relentless advocacy for the achievements, “Berlanti said.” His legacy with Warner Brothers, and in the television industry, bringing hit shows to millions of audiences around the world, is always unmatched. “
Other top talent Roth is responsible for signing exclusive general deals with JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath’s Bad Robot Productions, Ava DuVernay, John Wells, Damon Lindelof, Mindy Kaling, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Elizabeth Banks , Bruno Heller, Michael Patrick King, Steve Molaro, Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Bill Lawrence, Bryan Cranston, David Nutter, Rob Thomas, Matt Miller, and Robert Zemeckis, among others.
Roth joined the company in March 1999 as President, Warner Bros. Television. During his more than two decades at the top of the studio television production business, the 32 scripted series in primetime reached the 100-episode milestone. Theirs: The Big Bang theory (279 episodes, the longest running multicamera comedy in television history), Two and a half Men, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Gossip Girl, Shameless, Nip / Tuck, The Mentalist, Pretty Little Liars, Arrow, Mom, The Closer, Fringe, The Middle, George Lopez, The Flash, Mike & Molly, Person of Interest, Supernatural, Third Watch, The Vampire Diaries at A Tree Hill.
“Working at Warner Bros. was the greatest, most meaningful, most rewarding experience of my career,” Roth said. “Over the past 22 years, I have had the privilege of associating with some of the most inspiring creative talents, the most influential television series and the most dedicated and enthusiastic people I have ever met. I have long dreamed of to say goodbye at the right time in the right way and for the right reason.I am grateful to Ann Sarnoff for giving me that opportunity and to my colleagues at Warner Bros., past and present, for giving me what has been a gift in a lifetime . I look forward to the next chapter of my career and stay connected to those people who mean so much to me. “
Roth came to Warner Bros. Television after serving as President, Fox Entertainment. While there, he was responsible for the development and aired the Emmy winner Ally McBeal as well as That ’70s Show at Family Guy. Prior to working on the network, he served as President of Production, Twentieth Network Television (currently 20th Television), where he oversaw the development and sale of The X Files, Picket Fences, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Skill at King of the hill.
Prior to this, Roth was President of Stephen J. Cannell Productions, where, during his six-year tenure, he was involved in the creation and sale of the series as 21 Jump Street at The Commish.
He previously spent 10 years at ABC, where he began his television career in 1976 as Manager of Children’s Programs. He was promoted in the same year to the Director and is responsible for ABC’s number one rated Saturday morning schedule. In June 1979, he was named Director of Current Primetime Programs and was promoted to VP, Current Primetime Series, in November 1981, which oversaw the classic shows that Happy Day, Laverne & Shirley, Moonlighting at Dynasty
For his long and successful career, Roth will be recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.