In their rush to match Netflix, competitors like HBO, Hulu and Amazon are ordering a slew of content — ushering out the age of “prestige TV” and ushering in an age of anything goes.
When Nick Weidenfeld heard what happened at HBO last summer, he was thrilled. “Everyone I knew was texting that article around, saying, ‘What the [expletive]!’ ” Weidenfeld, an independent TV producer, recently recalled. A lot of people who work in Hollywood were spooked by the news, but not him: “I thought it was amazing.”
Weidenfeld was discussing the events of June 19, 2018, as reported in The Times: Around noon that day, Richard Plepler, then HBO’s chief executive officer, met with his new boss, John Stankey, at the network’s Manhattan headquarters. AT&T had recently completed its $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner — whose holdings included Warner Bros. and HBO — and chose Stankey to head up the resulting umbrella company, WarnerMedia. Plepler’s conversation with Stankey, framed as a company town hall, unfolded before some 150 HBO employees, who soon discovered that the new guy had big changes in mind.