Magazine article Variety

In HBO Shakeup, Plepler Wins

Magazine article Variety

In HBO Shakeup, Plepler Wins

Article excerpt

RICHARD PLEPLER BEGAN AT HBO in 1992 as the network's top corporate communications executive. Twenty years later, he was named CEO. Now he is once again consolidating power.

Plepler has named Los Angeles-based Casey Bloys, who was HBO's No. 2 programming executive, to succeed Michael Lombardo, who has stepped down as programming president. Lombardo had been HBO's top-ranking West Coast executive, overseeing dealings with the Hollywood creative community. But from his New York perch, Plepler exacted real influence over programming decisions. As HBO struggled in drama-series development, its efforts in nonfiction and children's programming were boosted by high-profile deals that originated in the New York office.

Long the gold standard, HBO has lately struggled with its drama projects. The last year saw major delays for "Lewis & Clark" from executive producers Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, and Edward Norton and "Westworld" from J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan. "Utopia," which would have reunited "Gone Girl" director David Fincher with writer Gillian Flynn, was scuttled entirely. Most damaging to the network's brand has been "Vinyl," the drama from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, which was renewed, but the first season drew equally poor ratings and reviews.

Over the same period, deals for new projects from Vice, Jon Stewart, and Bill Simmons have emerged from New York, as well as an agreement that brings new episodes of "Sesame Street" to HBO.

With Bloys now heading programming, Plepler will have the opportunity to exert more influence over L. …

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