Dick Robertson, a 40-year veteran who is one of the architects of the syndicated barter television business, is ending his 17-year tenure as president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution (WBDTD).
Robertson, having introduced the off-network sitcom Two and a Half Men into the market, has been named senior advisor to the Warner Bros. Television Group.
Warner Bros. is expected to name a replacement from within the company, and sources say it is expected to be someone who will "surprise" the industry and will encompass making several internal changes in the near future.
Robertson, meanwhile, is expected to remain in the new role for at least the duration of the remainder of his contract, which is thought to have about a year remaining.
Telepictures President Jim Paratore, Robertson's No. 2 at WBDTD, had long been considered to be in line for the top post. Within the past several months, however, he has been mentioned as going to a number of other studios and networks-NBC Universal being the most persistent rumor-to set up a Telepictures-like non-fiction operation. Primetime reality production was recently shifted from Paratore's Telepictures unit to a new low-cost programming division headed by Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth.
In his new role, Robertson will continue to work closely in a senior strategic advisory role to Bruce Rosenblum, president of the Warner Bros. Television Group. He will be involved in a variety of business, strategic and operational issues and objectives, including current and evolving distribution platforms, programming, sponsorship and product-integration scenarios, and media sales."Calling someone a legend can be a cliché, but in this case, it's entirely fitting," says Rosenblum. "Throughout his career, Dick has proven himself a creative, innovative and industry-shaping executive."
Says Robertson, "I'm thrilled and honored that Bruce and Barry Meyer and all the company's television presidents have a desire to allow me to step away from the day-to-day rigors yet still be involved in this ever-changing and dynamic business."
During his career, Robertson has been involved in the sale and launch of hundreds of television series and specials. At WBDTD (and its predecessors) alone, he has had a hands-on role in more than 100 series and movie packages, including talk shows with Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell, the off-net sale of Friends, and such first-run staples as The People's Court (which spurred the modern wave of court shows), Love Connection and Extra.
Robertson began his career in 1965 as an ad-sales rep for a TV station in Richmond, Va., and joined the NBC Television Stations in 1969, holding various sales and sales-management positions in Washington, San Francisco, Cleveland and New York.
In 1973, Robertson became a sales executive for the CBS Television Network and in 1977, was named VP, sports marketing, at CBS Sports.
Five years later, he became VP of marketing for an international program-distribution company called Telepictures Corp., where he was soon promoted to senior VP, sales and marketing, and, in 1984, became executive VP.
When Telepictures merged with Lorimar in 1985 to form Lorimar-Telepictures, Robertson became part of the Office of the President and, in addition to his corporate duties, was responsible for the company's domestic TV-distribution operations. In 1989, when Warner Bros. acquired Lorimar-Telepictures, he wasnamed to his current position.
Robertson was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2004. He currently serves on the board of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, the Television Bureau of Advertising andWilliams-Sonoma Inc.