HBO Max’s Antony Root to exit WBD, eyes move into production

Kamikaze

HBO Max EMEA content chief Antony Root is to step down from his role at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) at the end of March, after more than a decade with the company.

Root took on his current EVP & head of original production position in 2021, having joined HBO in 2011 to lead original programming and production for its HBO Europe arm.

TBI understands that while the exec is retiring from corporate life, he plans to pursue new TV production endeavours, details of which are yet to be announced.

Root’s departure comes six months after TBI exclusively revealed that his team was to be disbanded, with WBD now commissioning European originals and acquiring through regional teams for both streaming and TV channels, rather than exclusively for HBO Max.

He was asked to stay on by EMEA president & MD, Priya Dogra, as HBO Max’s originals slate was wrapped. This has included delivering completed originals and overseeing the recent deal with SkyShowtime that saw the streamer acquire 21 former HBO Max European originals that he had originally commissioned.

WBD is yet to confirm whether Root will be replaced and to whom executives under his purview will now report. These include HBO Max originals execs Vera Pelketian (France), Miguel Salvat (Iberia) and Hanka Kastelicová (documentaries).

During his time at HBO and then WBD, Root has commissioned and overseen more than 1,000 episodes of original programming across scripted, documentaries and unscripted. Titles include The Pack and Blinded By The Lights in Poland; Burning Bush and Wasteland in Czechia; Golden Life in Hungary; Collective in Romania; Patria and 30 Coins in Spain; and Beartown, Beforeigners and Kamikaze in the Nordics.

Antony Root

Passing on the baton

Prior to HBO, Root held roles including SVP of European production for Sony Pictures Television and head of international drama at Granada Television, where he oversaw three films for A&E, before progressing to the role of president for Granada Entertainment USA.

Earlier in his career, he served as head of drama for Granada Television in the UK and in the same role at Thames Television. He also served stints at ITV, Working Title Television and the BBC.

“When I joined in 2011, we were producing in only four countries in Central Eastern Europe, and the focus was on single documentaries and local adaptations of international scripted formats.

“Within a few years we were developing and producing our own locally created series and expanding our original production footprint to the Nordics, Spain and more recently France. Now, with the new, combined service set to launch, it’s time for me to bring my executive career to a close and pass the baton onto others,” said Root.

“I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy a long executive career in our industry but I am now eager to move on to the next phase of my life. I plan to pursue a range of different interests some educational, some professional and some personal,” he added.

Dogra added: “Some time ago, Antony agreed to postpone his planned retirement and to continue to lead his team and the various ongoing projects through the merger. With that work complete, I would like to wish him all the best as he retires from his executive career.”

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