Peter Roth, chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group, will step down from his role in early 2021, said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, on Friday.
The announcement comes amidst many layoffs and departures at the media giant, which has also seen the departures of Robert Greenblatt, chairman of Warner Media Entertainment and direct to consumer, and Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS and truTV, in early August.
In May, Jason Kilar, the founding CEO of Hulu, was named CEO of WarnerMedia and since then, Kilar has been streamlining teams across WarnerMedia and doubling down on new streaming service HBO Max. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that thousands of additional layoffs were likely coming to the company.
“Peter and I have been meeting for some time about this, and while there’s never a great moment to say goodbye, he felt that this was the right time to transition in a new leader for the group,” said Sarnoff in a statement. “He’s delivered hundreds of shows, thousands of episodes, millions of viewers, with one singular vision – to work with the best people and to make the best television 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 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’re thankful for his contributions to our company and wish him the very best.”
“Working at Warner Bros. has been the greatest, most meaningful, most rewarding experience of my career,” said Roth, also in a statement. “For the past 22 years, I have had the privilege to be associated with some of the most inspiring creative talent, the most impactful television series and the most dedicated and passionate people I have ever known. It has long been my dream to be able to say farewell at the right time in the right way and for the right reason. I’m grateful to Ann Sarnoff for giving me that opportunity and to my Warner Bros. colleagues, past and present, for giving me what has been the gift of a lifetime. I look forward to the next chapter of my career and remaining connected to those people who have meant so much to me.”
During his two decades at the studio, Roth has signed many exclusive overall deals with key producers including Chuck Lorre, Greg Berlanti, J.J. 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 atop the Studio’s television production business, 32 scripted primetime series developed under his leadership have successfully reached the coveted 100-episode milestone. Among them: The Big Bang Theory (279 episodes, the longest-running multicamera comedy in the history of television), Friends, Two and a Half Men, The West Wing, ER, Gilmore Girls and many more.
Roth came to Warner Bros. Television after having served as president, Fox Entertainment. While there, he was responsible for the development and programming of such shows as Ally McBeal, That ’70s Show and Family Guy. Prior to working at the network, he served as President of Production, Twentieth Network Television (currently 20th Century Fox Television Productions), where he oversaw the development and sales of The X Files, Picket Fences, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Practice and King of the Hill.
Prior to joining Twentieth Television Corp., Roth was president of Stephen J. Cannell Productions, where, during a six-year tenure, he was involved with the creation and sale of such series as 21 Jump Street and 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 that same year to director and was 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 vice president, current primetime series, in November 1981, overseeing such classic shows as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Moonlighting and Dynasty.
Roth currently serves on the board of directors of the Peabody Awards, the Los Angeles Board of Governors of The Paley Center for Media, and the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for the Television Academy.