To the TV viewer, television is all about shows and stars, glitz and glamour, underdog upsets and dramatic cliffhangers. But more than anything, TV is about money, and that's where Craig Hunegs, executive VP of business management for Warner Bros. Television Group, comes into play.
As right-hand man to the group's president, Bruce Rosenblum, Hunegs has his hand in most of the studio's deals. He's tasked with overseeing and—here's the trick—growing all of Warner Bros.' TV businesses, which range from production to distribution to the company's new digital businesses. In today's tough TV climate, that's no easy task, but Hunegs has a handle on it.
“People want to watch what they want, when and where they want it, on a variety of different devices. That's what the TV industry has to deliver, and we have to do it in a way that keeps our business intact,” he says.
Warner Bros. has been aggressive about finding ways to deliver its product online, creating Websites such as TMZ.com, TheWB.com, Essence.com, MomLogic.com and WarnerBros.com. It also was one of the first studios to partner with a network—ABC—to allow its product online through a network Website.
That mandate for growth might panic a lesser executive, but Hunegs takes it in stride. He has plenty of experience. When he graduated from New York University law school, he worked for a bit as a lawyer but knew he really wanted to be in TV. A friend helped him land a position in ABC Entertainment's business affairs division, and he's worked his way up from there.
He moved to Los Angeles to continue working for ABC. After three years there, he jumped to NBC, where he spent five years. In 1995, Rosenblum called and asked if he wanted to work for a new network: The WB.
“I didn't even know what The WB was,” Hunegs laughs, “but Bruce is a great salesman. I liked everyone and thought it would be a good opportunity to get in on the ground floor.” Since then, he's found that those calls from Rosenblum with offers of new and bigger challenges keep coming.
“He's someone with vision for where the business is going, flexibility in his thought processes and the ability to get along well with others,” says Rosenblum, who held Hunegs' position before he was promoted to president. “He has a very sound fundamental understanding of our business.” —Paige Albiniak