Antony Root, the long-serving HBO Max EMEA original programming chief, is to exit his role at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) and retire from the industry.

Root will leave his post at the end of March ahead of the launch of the merged HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming service.

Root has spent 11 years as Executive Vice President of HBO Europe and later HBO Max EMEA after joining from Sony Pictures Television.

Last year, his originals team were halted in their tracks when WBD decided HBO Max would stop ordering shows in most of Europe – a decision one source described as “the end of an era.”

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Most of Root’s European commissioning and production team were later let go, as Deadline revealed in August, but he stayed on. Deadline hears he has been travelling extensively in recent months to visit the remaining local staff. WBD did not discuss succession plans.

Long Career At HBO

Root commissioned more than 1,000 episodes of scripted, documentaries and unscripted shows in total for HBO brands.

Notable credits included The Pack and Blinded by the Lights in Poland; Burning Bush and Wasteland in Czechia; Golden Life in Hungary; Oscar-nominated doc Collective in Romania; Patria and 30 Coins in Spain; and BeartownBeforeigners and Kamikaze in the Nordics. 

Several of his newer series, including Norway’s Beforeigners and Denmark’s Kamikaze, were pulled from HBO Max last year after the commissioning freeze. Many have now be licensed to SkyShowtime in 21 territories.

Priya Dogra, President and Manging Director EMEA said: “Antony is a true giant of the European TV industry, and during his career at HBO, he has commissioned and executive produced some of the most iconic series of recent years across the Nordics, Central Eastern Europe and Spain.

“Antony built and managed talented teams and left an indelible mark on the quality of productions from HBO in Europe. 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.”

She said he had been an “incredible partner,” adding: “I’ve learnt a huge amount from him about bringing the best stories from an initial pitch to the screen, and for that I am hugely thankful.”

Root said: “Leading a European production group within the HBO family has been an honour and privilege and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity. 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.” 

Root began his career in theater before joining the BBC and then ITV. He moved to Working Title Television in 1989 and was Head of Drama at Thames Television. He took the same role at Granada Television in 1996 and soon moved into drama development outside the UK, later moving to LA. He returned to the UK in 2005 with Sony before joining HBO Europe in 2011.

In retirement, Root plans to pursue “a range of different interests, some educational, some professional and some personal.”

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