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Warner Bros.’ Channing Dungey Talks ‘Harry Potter’ TV Show Status, ‘Ted Lasso’ Future, ‘Golden Bachelorette’ Hopes and More (EXCLUSIVE)

Channing Dungey first joined Warner Bros. TV Group as chairman in late 2020 — right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made for an interesting first year on the job. Then came the Warner Media-Discovery merger in 2022, and the restructuring that came with it. In 2023, the Hollywood strikes disrupted the business again.

“It’s been a lot of tumult since I’ve been in the role,” Dungey recently reflected to Variety. “I’m hoping — and I’m knocking wood as I say this — that as we round the corner into 2024, we’re behind some of those bigger challenges. I’m sure there will be something new on the horizon, but I’m hopeful that 2024 marks a return to business as usual.”

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The entertainment industry remains in flux, of course, with more disruption anticipated this year. But in her own corner of the biz, Dungey said she feels some truly positive momentum. Warner Bros. TV Group ended 2023 with several new hits under its belt, including revitalized franchises like NBC’s “Night Court” and ABC’s “The Golden Bachelor.” The division also found success via its freshman Nkechi Okoro Carroll/Berlanti Prods. drama “Found” — one of the few fall scripted launches in the midst of the strikes — which landed a Season 2 pickup from NBC. Also scoring year two renewals: “Bookie,” which repped Chuck Lorre’s first show for Warner Bros. TV sister streamer Max; and the Apple TV+ comedy “Shrinking,” from Bill Lawrence, Brett Goldstein and Jason Segel.

“I feel like we’re coming off of 2023 in a pretty great place,” Dungey said. “’Golden Bachelor’ has been such a sweet success for us, the idea that we could breathe such new life into the franchise at this point. (Is “Golden Bachelorette” on the horizon? “We are all poised and ready and the team is set to go,” she said. “We would love to go back and forth between ‘Golden Bachelor’ and ‘Golden Bachelorette.’ And alternating them with the original versions of ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Bachelorette.’”)

Meanwhile, she added: “‘Found’ came on in a quieter period this fall when there was less scripted programming than normal, and launched really big right out of the gate. And what’s great about ‘Night Court’ is you have fans that knew the original and were excited to see John Larroquette back in the role. And then there were people who didn’t know anything about the original.”

Also in 2023, Warner Bros. TV landed renewals for The CW’s “All American,” “All American: Homecoming” and “Superman & Lois” (entering its final frame), as well as Fox’s “The Cleaning Lady.” Speaking of shows ending their runs, “Young Sheldon” was renewed for a seventh and final season — although, as Variety previously reported, CBS is in talks to pick up a “Young Sheldon” spin-off, keeping the franchise and Lorre on the Eye network.

Then there’s the Emmy-winning Apple TV+ hit “Ted Lasso,” which may have wrapped after three seasons — but never say never on some sort of evolution or revival. To this day, series star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis won’t confirm whether it’s truly over.

“I mean, you watched the finale, there’s a little bit of a door that could be kicked back open if need be,” Dungey said. “I wouldn’t put the period on the end of that sentence just yet. There is still a lot of love for ‘Ted Lasso.’ And I think that there still is a lot of enthusiasm on the part of Apple for ‘Ted Lasso.’ Should the opportunity arise, we’d be excited to jump back in to making more…. There are always conversations that are ongoing, just nothing that’s official.”

Dungey’s oversight also includes unscripted, where the company brought back “The Jennifer Hudson Show” for a second season in first-run syndication and continues to produce NBC’s hit “The Voice”; and animation, where the Max adult series “Harley Quinn” was renewed for a Season 5 and the holiday action comedy “Merry Little Batman” recently premiered as the first project out of the division’s new Amazon animation deal. Warner Bros. Animation also landed Season 2 pickups at Max for “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,” “Tiny Toons Looniversity” and “Velma.”

Scripted series beginning production this year include the NBC medical drama “Dr. Wolf,” starring Zachary Quinto and from Berlanti Prods.; an untitled Netflix basketball comedy from Mindy Kaling, inspired by the L.A. Lakers; and two shows from John Wells: MGM+’s “Emperor of Ocean Park” and Fox’s “Rescue HI-Surf.” (Wells has other projects up his sleeves as well. But sorry to disappoint: A reboot of “ER” — which celebrates its 30th anniversary this fall, along with “Friends” — is not in the cards.)

Additionally on the docket: Apple TV+’s “Bad Monkey,” starring Vince Vaughn, from Bill Lawrence; Berlanti Prods. and Steve Yockey’s “Dead Boy Detectives,” from Neil Gaiman and for his Netflix “Sandman” universe; the Max actioner “Duster,” from J.J. Abrams and LaToya Morgan; the DC Studios drama “The Penguin,” starring Colin Farrell; and the “IT” prequel “Welcome to Derry.” Berlanti also has the drama “The Girls on the Bus,” based on the reporting of New York Times journalist Amy Chozick. And there also remains talk of a “The Big Bang Theory” spinoff at Max.

Of course, the announced “Harry Potter”/”Wizarding World” series, to be produced by Warner Bros. TV for Max, is a high priority for the entire Warner Bros. Discovery conglom. As revealed last year, each season of the “decade-long series” will be based on one of the books in the franchise.

“We’re in conversations with a number of different writers to figure out who’s going to be the person to lead that franchise for us,” said Dungey, who noted that any rumors that casting is already under way are inaccurate. “The first step for us is figuring out who this showrunner is going to be and once we get that locked down, then we can start having those [casting] conversations. The tricky part is the first two books, where the kids are on the younger end, around 11 or 12.”

Meanwhile, Variety has learned that another Warner Bros. TV project in development at Max is “Head Cases,” from Bruno Heller (“Gotham,” “The Mentalist”). The drama, which Heller will write and exec produce, is based on the John McMahon book about FBI agents in the “pattern and recognition team” — misfits inside the bureau who are called upon to crack the most intense cases. Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Leigh London Redman are also EPs, along with Goldwyn/Rosenfelt Prods.’ John Goldwyn and Karen Rosenfelt. Heller and Berlanti Prods. have overall deals at Warner Bros. TV, while Goldwyn/Rosenfelt has a first-look deal.

Given the increased output for HBO and Max, Dungey said she and HBO/Max boss Casey Bloys “have a really good relationship. We’re very collaborative. It’s the biggest win for Warner Bros. Discovery if there’s a big, huge hit from us on Max. That’s always the ambition and the goal. We want to make sure if there’s something we’re developing that feels right for them that we’re talking early and often. And then, if it doesn’t feel like that’s the case, then we certainly want to be ready to take it out broadly to the town. [CEO] David Zaslav is excited when we have success on Max, but he’s equally excited when we have success with a show like ‘Shrinking’ on Apple or ‘Abbott Elementary’ on ABC.”

Up next, Emmy winner Quinta Brunson’s “Abbott Elementary,” which has become a signature hit for Warner Bros. TV, finally returns for an abbreviated Season 3 on Wednesday, Feb. 7. (It will be showcased with a special episode behind the Oscars on March 10.) “I cannot wait,” Dungey said. “I went to a table read and I swear, I have not laughed that hard in such a long time. That show is firing on all creative cylinders. It’s always hard when things have been off the air for a while, but they have not missed a beat. Audiences will be ready.”

(Photo above: Quinta Brunson, Channing Dungey and Brett Goldstein at Warner Bros. TV Group’s recent Emmys celebration.)

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