It marks the end of an era at Warner Bros. as Peter Roth, one of the most accomplished TV executives of the last few decades, leaves independent TV studios in early 2021 after 22 years.
Roth was upgraded to his current role as chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group in February when he signed a one-year extension of his latest contract, which was up in the summer of 2020. It was imagined as the final chapter in Roth’s Warner Bros. TV time, whose course changed dramatically when the coronavirus pandemic a month after Roth resumed his appointment, hit and stopped production and all other important Hollywood activities such as face-to-face meetings, lunches, premieres and press junkies.
‘The Batman’ UK Shoot Continues in Liverpool Despite Increased Local COVID-19 Restrictions – Reports
Also getting a course correction was Warner Bros. TV’s management follower plan. Roth’s top lieutenant and heir, WBTV president Susan Rovner, surprisingly left the studio after 22 years to become entertainment content president for NBCUniversal’s television and streaming unit. Former ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, who left his Netflix post last week, is expected to replace Rovner as Roth’s successor.
In announcing Roth’s pending departure, Ann Sarnoff, President and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group spoke about how the timing came about.
“Peter and I have met for some time about this, and although there is never a good time to say goodbye, he felt this was the right time to transition to a new leader of the group,” Sarnoff said. “He has delivered hundreds of shows, thousands of episodes and millions of viewers, with a unique vision – to work with the best people and create the best TV series. In addition to being well-respected by his colleagues and competitors, actors, writers, directors and producers, he is the force behind iconic, pop culture-defining TV shows that 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 contribution to our company and wish him the best. ”
Roth is known for his close ties to talent. A number of bets he made on creators have had a huge payout for the studio.
Shortly after joining Warner Bros., Roth made a big deal with Chuck Lorre afterwards.Dharma & Greg, who gave no more than one failed pilot before Lorre delivered in the final year of the pact Two and a half men. It was followed by The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, mother, Young Sheldon and Bob Hearts Abishola in what has become the most successful – and hugely profitable – comedy of the last two decades.
No other talent relationship characterizes Roth’s WBTV period better than his partnership with Greg Berlanti. Also early in his WBTV period, Roth took over the youngsters Dawson’s Creek author who created / co-created two series for the studio, Everwood and Jack & Bobby to WB before traveling for an overall deal at ABC Studios.
Roth was determined to defeat Berlanti back, and he did. Since Berlanti’s return to WBTV, he has become the most prolific producer in television, breaking the record for most television shows in several times. Berlanti also built an expansive DC universe spanning linear television and streaming. When the arms race for talent hit in 2018, with Netflix encrypting TV’s best creators with massive overall offerings, Roth stepped in to keep Berlanti and was instrumental in re-signing the showrunner into a mega pact.
“From the moment he first called me in tears after reading the manuscript Everwood, to this day – like countless others, I have benefited from Peter Roth’s unique passion for big TV and unwavering advocacy for those who do, ”said Berlanti. “His legacy from Warner Brothers and in the television industry of bringing hit shows to millions of audiences around the world is and will always be unsurpassed.”
Other top talents that Roth has been responsible for signing exclusive joint deals with include JJ Abrams and Katie McGraths 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 on top of the studio’s television production business, 32 scripted primetime series reached the milestone in 100 episodes. Among them: Big Bang theories (279 episodes, the longest running multi-camera comedy in TV 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 and One Tree Hill.
“Working at Warner Bros. has been the greatest, most meaningful and most rewarding experience of my career, ”said Roth. For the past 22 years, I have had the privilege of being associated with some of the most inspiring creative talents, the most impressive TV series and the most dedicated and passionate people I have ever known. It has long been my dream to be able to say goodbye at the right time in the right way and for the right reason. I’m grateful to Ann Sarnoff for giving me this opportunity and to my Warner Bros. colleagues, past and present, for giving me what has been a gift of a lifetime. I look forward to the next chapter in my career and stay connected with the people who have meant so much to me. ”
Roth came to Warner Bros. Television after serving as president of Fox Entertainment. While there, he was in charge of the development and put the Emmy-winning in the air Ally McBeal as well as The 70’s show and Family guy. Prior to working on the network, he served as president of production, Twentieth Network Television (currently 20th Television), overseeing the development and sales of The X-Files, Picket Fences, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Practice and King of the Hill.
Prior to that, Roth was president of Stephen J. Cannell Productions, where for a period of six years he was involved in the creation and sale of series such as 21 Jump Street and Commish.
He previously spent 10 years at ABC, where he began his television career in 1976 as a director of children’s programs. He was promoted the same year to director and was in charge of ABC’s number one-ranked Saturday morning schedule. In June 1979, he was appointed Director of Current Primetime Programs and was promoted to VP, Current Primetime Series, in November 1981 under the supervision of classic shows such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Moonlighting and The dynasty.
In his long and successful career, Roth will be recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.