The Return of Bob Greenblatt?

Bob Greenblatt
Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Matthew Belloni
August 12, 2022

Have you read this Bob Greenblatt book? Normally, when a Hollywood executive is as prolific and impactful as Greenblatt and decides to write a memoir, there would be months of anticipation, industry gossip, and speculation about whether that incident or her blowup would be included. For Greenblatt’s big tell-all, titled The Rockford Files: Epiphanies in Show Business (he’s from Rockford, Illinois), there’s been none of that. He doesn’t even have a publisher.

Instead, the former chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer—and before that the top programmer at both NBC and Showtime, with successful producing stints in TV and Broadway in between—self-published the 414-page book and has been quietly mailing hardback copies to friends and former colleagues. It made its way to me, so I read it last weekend.

No surprise for those who know Bob: it’s a breezy, earnest, name-droppy stroll through the past 30 years of television, heavy on nice compliments about his friends and told via chapters on hits like Six Feet Under (he produced), Weeds (he greenlit), and The Voice (he oversaw), all written from the perspective of a small-town theater geek who ended up running a bunch of TV networks. Those looking for swipes at AT&T over his firing in August 2020, just 18 months into his tenure at WarnerMedia, or some of the snark you might get from Greenblatt over lunch or drinks, will be disappointed—no, he doesn’t go there (maybe the many millions of dollars he was paid to go away influenced that decision). But he does call out former ABC head Stu Bloomberg for the implicit racism in banishing The Hughleys, a promising Black-driven sitcom Greenblatt produced with partner David Janollari, to a Friday night graveyard. And he tells a few fun stories, albeit self-serving ones, like how, when he was an executive at Fox, he threatened to quit in a meeting that Rupert Murdoch attended unless Party of Five was renewed for a second season (it was… but with just 13 episodes). And how he fought endlessly with Les Moonves over whether to greenlight the racy Shameless. (Les relented when Greenblatt convinced William H. Macy to star.) And how he pitched network head Peter Chernin The X-Files in the hallway of the Fox commissary because he knew Chernin would be distracted and more likely to say yes. (It worked.)