Like the showrunners they hire, network executives are a nameless bunch, often living in the shadows of obscurity as they run massive corporations designed to do one thing: deliver the highest quality of entertainment they can to your television screens six (sometimes seven) nights a week, and one of the most notable names of recent memory’s been that of Kevin Reilly.
Over the years, Reilly’s made a name for himself with radical decisions that include, but are not limited to, the originally planned “killing of pilot season” by Fox. However, earlier this year the executive stepped down from his Newscorp position to pursue other opportunities - opportunities that have now been revealed.
In an official press release sent out, it was revealed Reilly’s been named as the president of cable networks TNT and TBS, as well as Chief Creative Officer for all of Turner Broadcasting. In the statement, Turner explained:
Reilly, who most recently served as chairman of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX), will be responsible for overseeing and leading the TNT and TBS networks and brands, including all content development; business affairs and production; marketing, brand and creative services; digital platforms; and program scheduling, planning and content-monetization strategies.
The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering Reilly's previous job – even before his days at NBC – was that of President of Entertainment at FX. It was under Reilly’s tenure when all of basic cable was essentially flipped on its head thanks to The Shield, Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me. If you want to really strip things down, consider it a safe bet that without the actions of the former Fox exec at FX, there would have never been a marketplace for Breaking Bad in 2008.
The new promotion also doesn’t come as a surprise considering the ways in which Reilly wanted to re-organize Fox prior to his departure. The push for yearly limited-series events such as 24: Live Another Day and shorter, cable like seasons seen on The Following all came from his administration. Had his plan succeeding of doing away with traditional pilot season development in favor of a more cable-like, year round cycle, he could have changed everything about how broadcast development works, whether or not for the better is in the eyes of the beholder.
While broadcast may have been fun for a while, it’s nice to see the executive return to basic cable. It definitely appears like the world of little FCC regulation is where he belongs. TNT’s currently in the middle of re-branding that includes two major pilot pick-ups from high-profile filmmakers such as Michael Bay and Joe Carnahan, and it’s going to take a guy like Reilly to understand how to make those two widely different projects - a cocaine trade based period piece, and a serialized time travel series, respectively - succeed on the single home of TNT.
Not to mention this must be done all while trying to find a way to make TBS the name home of comedy content it’s been striving to be for the last few years now. It may be fun to poke at things that come out of Fox, but Kevin Reilly heading back to basic cable could be a major deal come this time next year.