Who Might Replace Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly? Probably Not John Landgraf

Upfront season departure leaves awkward questions for ad execs

Fox's chairman Kevin Reilly has stepped down after much upfront-season speculation about how much longer the exec's tenure would last. In his absence he leaves… no one, yet.

Reilly's direct reports are all due to have their hotel expenses approved by network group chairman Peter Rice for the moment. It's hard to know who will end up with such a high profile (and, frankly, thankless job), but several people have already suggested FX president John Landgraf, given the success of that network's original programming. Of course, since Fox owns both properties, it might want to keep Landgraf where's he's successful—and anyway, he's insisted he's not interested. 

That leaves a few options. Some suggestions (and bear in mind the vagaries of contract obligations with a few folks here):

  • Charlie Collier. The president of AMC has presided over a string of hits that includes Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead; he's not afraid to take risks and he knows the advertising biz upside down and sideways from his time on the sales side.
  • Jeff Wachtel. Formerly co-president of USA network with Chris McCumber, Wachtel is now NBCU cable's chief content officer, where he hunts for projects that might fit somewhere in NBCU's vast cable portfolio. It's a broad job, and Wachtel was good at running a network—over the course of his 13-year run (he started as evp of original programming), the network climbed to the No. 1 spot among 18-49 year-olds and stayed there until 2013, when he got the CCO gig. Might have trouble leaving the new job, though.
  • David Nevins. NBC pulled Bob Greenblatt from Showtime after a strong track record (Weeds, The Big C, The Tudors), but his successor is no slouch, either. Besides the obvious (Homeland), Nevins' Masters of Sex was one of the best-reviewed new shows of last year and fun stuff like the new Penny Dreadful has gotten attention, as well. (Other shows, like Episodes, should have.) Nevins also knows where the vending machines are: the exec was evp of programming at Fox for three years, where he developed 24 and The Bernie Mac Show. He also ran Imagine when the show was producing Arrested Development, which, retroactively, is a great decision.
  • Ted Sarandos. Netflix's head of content has gone from strength to strength at the streaming service—so much so that Netflix's business model has led to the creation of an entire industry. A complete newcomer to the content acquisition space—Sarandos worked as an exec at video distributor ETD and at West Coast Video (a rental chain), prior to Netflix—the executive has proven his acumen pretty dramatically.

Reilly commented on his departure from the company in a statement issued by Fox. "Peter and I have been discussing this transition for a while," said Reilly, "and now with a robust new slate of programming for next season and strength in the FBC ranks, it felt like the timing was as right as it could be. I couldn't be more thankful to my team—a group of creative, tireless and fun people whose fellowship I will miss.” 

“Kevin’s undeniable creative gift and passion for talent have left an indelible mark on our company, and we’re extremely grateful to him for his leadership," said Rice in the same statement.

Reilly will leave the network at the end of June.