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HBO shakeup continues: Colin Callender steps down

Colin Callendar, the man most responsible for HBO's ambitious, sophisticated and hugely expensive original movies, announced this afternoon that he was leaving his corporate home of the last 20 years. Callenderphoto

"This was solely my decision to leave and return to my entrepreneurial roots," the former independent producer told a klatch of reporters during a telephone conference call.  "This is one of those rare occasions where the story that you are being told really is the story."

The move was not entirely unexpected. The gravy years of HBO are over and the premium channel is under pressure to find The Next Big Hit. Recent attempts such as "John From Cincinnati" wiped out. And most of Callender's trademark productions, including the upcoming $200-million World War II drama "The Pacific" from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, make corporate executives nervous because making the money back in foreign sales and DVDs is no longer such a sure thing.

Callender also lost some of his power in a management shake-up after former HBO Chairman Chris Albrecht was forced to resign last year. Albrecht's departure led to the installation of a top-heavy management structure. Instead of reporting directly to the head of HBO, he was knocked two levels down, reporting to Michael Lombardo, president of West Coast operations, who in turn reports to Richard Plepler, co-president of HBO.  Callender's departure follows that of another top Albrecht lieutenant, Carolyn Strauss, who stepped down in March.

Callender, who guided such mini-series as "Angels in America" and "John Adams" to the small screen, said he would form his own company in 2009.  He said he was excited by the intersection of traditional media with digital media, and would likely do business with HBO. However, he said he would not have an independent production deal at HBO, one of the most profitable divisions of media giant Time Warner Co. 

Ctlogo_2HBO executives said Callender would not be replaced. Instead, two of his subordinates will assume his duties.  Kary Antholis will become president of HBO Miniseries and Len Amato will become president of HBO Films.  Both will report to Lombardo.

Callendar said today that he would assist in the transition for about another month before leaving HBO.

-- Meg James

Photo courtesy of HBO.

Comments () | Archives (2)

HBO USA should start looking at their Latin counterparts to find some producing talent that have a refreshingly unique perspective to their new shows.

Mandrake, Hijos del Carnaval and Capadocia have been the most captivating series that HBO has broadcast in years!

They should consider putting the sub-titled shows on their regular channels and not just make them available on demand. I'm sure they would garner a significant American audience.

It seems like someone at HBO Ole knows what they're doing while HBO USA becomes stagnant.

HBO should start looking toward Latin America to find producers with a refreshingly unique outlook.

Capadocia, Hijos del Carnaval and Mandrake have been the best series to air on HBO in years. It's a shame that the subtitled episodes are only available via 'On Demand'. I believe they could garner a substantial audience if they were to air these series on their regular broadcast channels.

Someone at HBO Ole knows quality programming. HBO USA could use their help.


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