Despite his reputation as a prolific unscripted producer and myth-maker who created the image of Donald Trump as a successful businessman, Mark Burnett is stepping down from the MGM Global TV Group chair reads more like a footnote than the drama that is going on with Amazon’s entertainment business (so far confusing to some in the creative community) going on The headlines of the executive shuffle.
Burnett is the latest executive to leave MGM since Amazon bought the studio for $8.5 billion in February. Film Group Chairman Michael De Luca and Film Group President Pam Abdy stepped down in April to run Warner Bros. Discovery’s film studios. The search for a new studio head has been underway for some time — hampered by internal wrangling over who would oversee the division, some sources said. But Amazon Studios CEO Jennifer Salke won the sweepstakes later Tuesday as she officially added She is in charge of MGM’s film and television division.
From the outset it was difficult to see any meaningful potential role for Burnett post-acquisition. Despite early career successes including still ongoing Survivor, The Voice and Shark Tank, Burnett produced no new hits during his eight-year tenure at MGM . (He would stay on as executive producer of those shows.) His tenure at MGM began with a series of impromptu sales — Fox’s Beat Shazam and CBS’ TKO – but nothing like the breakout hits he’s known for . Instead, as The Hollywood Reporter previously reported, he Known as the face of chaos, some colleagues see him as similar to the former president with whom he was close.
During his tenure, MGM experienced high-level departures and at least one HR complaint. Sources at the time said Burnett had a tendency to meddle in areas where he didn’t have a clear role to play and often pestered and criticized employees and other executives.
Head of MGM’s film division, and MGM TV president Steve Stark, who has been the driving force behind several of the company’s prestigious TV series, including FX’s Fargo and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale . After ten years at MGM, Stark stunned colleagues by resigning from his new contract for a year in February 30. It was part of what one source at the time called the “Burnetization” of the company.
In a November 23 parting letter to colleagues at MGM, “I have a clear strategic vision to work with my dynamic team to build and grow MGM’s television division, which includes acquiring major companies like Evolution and Big Fish, adding international scripts and non-profits,” Burnett said. scripting team, and launching a documentary division. We took calibrated risks and hired great people — and the business grew because of it.” That led to a “historic sale” to Amazon, he wrote.
Of course, Amazon’s $8.5 billion payment for MGM came as a shock to many in the media. Top executives in Seattle became concerned that the price was too high, some sources said. Still, the company appears ready to make a big promise: A Bloomberg report says Amazon will spend $1 billion a year on theatrical releases , which sent exhibition stocks soaring. Even as Amazon is looking for the head of MGM’s film division, ideas like this keep popping up. Former Paramount Pictures president Emma Watts, who is in talks for the role, is considered a favorite candidate for Prime Video and Amazon Studios senior vice president Mike Hopkins and will report directly to him. Some sources believe that Salk approached Amazon executives to give her control of MGM’s TV and movie businesses. Others believe Hopkins decided to hand over his reins to her. With this, Watts is no longer in the picture. Amazon is currently in talks with former Warner Bros. studio production and development president Courtenay Valenti, the sources said.
Some in the industry believe that the high price paid for MGM has weakened Hopkins University. The studio doesn’t control the crown jewel, the Bond franchise, and will have to renegotiate rights to some of its other properties due to copyright issues. Salke was tasked with sifting through and figuring out how to take advantage of MGM’s vast library of movies and TV shows, including 4,000 Topic title and 12, episodes.
Salke at the helm of Amazon Studios in the early days 2017, reorganized her executive team more than once. For example, for 12 months, Albert Cheng worked with Vernon Sanders as COO and TV Co-head (he’s now head of US/Global TV), then just COO, then assigned to the new role of VP of US Prime Video. In October, Salke ousted Amazon exec Marc Resteghini, who made original works like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and
played a key role in Jack Ryan , even though she only promoted him to head of global development last year. Sanders then promoted Nick Pepper and Laura Lancaster, who joined Amazon 2022, as heads of creative content and series, respectively, Co-responsible for developing and producing TV content. An Amazon source said Sanders is simplifying the structure to make it run smoothly and clear up any existing confusion.
As for Burnett, producers said in a note to staff that he is returning to “self-creation and innovation.” In addition to his role at MGM, he will always be featured on NBC’s The Apprentice and his role in entertainment planning with Trump. Trump is linked to Trump’s inauguration at 2018 and Trump’s Apprentice in the review as a janitor years. In response to news of his departure, a former MGM insider joked, “Burnett is just in time for Yeh 2022!”
This story first appeared in November 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine. Click here to subscribe.