HBO boss Bill Nelson announces retirement, Richard Plepler will assume the throne

After five years as king of the HBO castle, CEO Bill Nelson has announced he's leaving the company to retire at the end of the year. During Nelson's near 30-year career, he bounced through a string of corporate roles before becoming top dog in 2007, subsequently overseeing the launch of the digital service HBO Go. While it might be impossible to replace such a commanding moustache, we're sure current co-President Richard Plepler will do a fine job when he takes the helm. He's responsible (in part) for bringing shows like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones to our screens, after all. Enjoy your retirement Bill, and be glad you left on your own terms -- some aren't so fortunate.

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Time Warner Announces New HBO Management Team: Richard Plepler CEO, Eric Kessler President & COO, and Michael Lombardo President, Programming

NEW YORK, September 20, 2012 – Bill Nelson, CEO of Home Box Office, Inc., announced today he will step down as CEO of HBO at the end of the year. Under Nelson's tenure, HBO has enjoyed record revenues and profits; experienced a resurgence in its original programming, most recently earning 81 Emmy nominations, including the most "outstanding series" nominations in the network's history; launched its acclaimed and popular authenticated streaming service HBO GO; and expanded its international businesses, resulting more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. Under the new management structure, Eric Kessler will serve as President and COO and Michael Lombardo will serve as President, Programming, and both will report to Richard Plepler, who will become CEO.

"Bill and I have worked together for many, many years and though I'm sad to see him leave, I respect his decision to enjoy retirement. He is a world-class CEO and leaves the company well-positioned for the future," said Jeff Bewkes, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc. "The company will not miss a step with the new team, which has the combination of talent and experience to drive HBO to new heights of creative excellence, innovation, and financial performance. Richard and Eric are twenty-plus year veterans of the company who, as Co-Presidents, helped HBO re-establish its pre-eminence over the past five years, and Mike Lombardo has done an exceptional job in developing the best slate in HBO's history."

"HBO has been my home for almost 30 years so this decision was an emotional one," said Nelson. "With my elevation to CEO more than five years ago, we set an ambitious agenda for HBO, and I'm proud to say that I feel the company has never been in better shape financially or creatively. I feel very comfortable in taking this step now because I know HBO will continue in its tradition of innovation and acclaimed programming and retain its superior position in our industry in the hands of Richard, Eric, Mike and the entire team."

Mr. Nelson's Background
Bill Nelson has been Chairman and CEO of Home Box Office, Inc. since 2007. Prior to his current position, he was chief operating officer for Home Box Office since 2002, responsible for overseeing domestic and international marketing and affiliate relations for the HBO and Cinemax networks; global home video distribution, content and licensing; film acquisitions; finance; legal; and human resources. Nelson began at Time Inc. 33 years ago as director, external reporting and risk management and then joined HBO in May 1984 as vice president and assistant controller, becoming vice president and controller in July 1985 followed by senior vice president and chief financial officer in September 1991. In April 1994, he was made executive vice president before becoming chief operating officer in 2002.

Mr. Plepler's Background
Richard Plepler has been co-President of HBO since 2007. In this role, Plepler, in partnership with HBO's President of Programing Michael Lombardo, has greenlit some of HBO's most acclaimed and successful series. Among them are True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom and Game of Thrones, which rank among the top programs in the network's history, and first season Emmy award nominees Girls and Veep. Additional award-winning programs include the miniseries Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, and Generation Kill; HBO Films' Too Big To Fail, Temple Grandin, Taking Chance, Grey Gardens, Game Change and You Don't Know Jack. He joined HBO in 1992 as senior vice president, corporate communications, and was named executive vice president, corporate communications, in 1997. He was promoted to executive vice president, HBO, from 2002-07, having an integral role as part of the senior management team and involved with all creative aspects of the company, including serving as a member of HBO's program planning committee.

Mr. Kessler's Background
Eric Kessler, a 26-year veteran of HBO, has been co-President of the network since 2007. In this role his responsibilities have been affiliate sales, marketing, HBO's international channels, program licensing, DVD sales, technology operations and IT. Kessler has been responsible for HBO's digital strategy and overseen the product development and deployment of HBO GO as well as the company's international channel expansion. From 2003-2007, Kessler was president, sales and marketing. From 1995-2002, Kessler served as executive vice president, Marketing, launching the award-winning "It's Not TV. It's HBO." campaign. During his tenure as head of marketing, HBO was awarded a number of prestigious marketing and advertising awards, including the very first Emmy® for a commercial. The marketing campaigns for "It's Not TV. It's HBO." and The Sopranos were also inducted into CTAM's Hall of Fame. Kessler is the recipient of numerous high-profile industry honors, including Promax's Brand Builder of the Year; Brandweek's Marketer of the Year, and was named a top 10 Innovator by Advertising Age. Kessler joined HBO in 1986 as a marketing manager in home video and served as the president of the division from 1989-1995.

Mr. Lombardo's Background
Mike Lombardo has been president of programming for HBO since 2007, responsible for overseeing all of HBO's original programming initiatives, including HBO Films, HBO Sports, HBO Documentaries and Family and HBO Entertainment (series and specials). He also oversees HBO's Program Planning group, which is responsible for research and scheduling in connection with the HBO and Cinemax services. In addition, he is responsible for the West Coast Business Affairs, Legal and Production departments. In partnership with Mr. Plepler, he has greenlit such acclaimed HBO shows as True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Girls, Veep and The Newsroom as well as the miniseries Mildred Pierce and Generation Kill and the original movies Game Change, Too Big To Fail, Temple Grandin and Taking Chance in addition to a wide range of sports and documentary programs. Formerly, Lombardo was executive vice president, Business Affairs, Production and Programming Operations, a position he held since January 2003. In this capacity, he was responsible for the negotiation and administration of talent, production and license agreements for HBO original programming as well as overseeing the network's West Coast Production and Legal departments and the Programming Operations area, which includes original programming operations, administration and budgeting. He currently serves on the boards of The Paley Center, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).