Mara Mikialian, HBO’s current Senior Vice President of Media Relations, has decided to leave the network after 36 years of service, reports Deadline. Her last day will be January 13.
Just on a personal note, Mikialian has been providing us here at WiC with glossy pictures of Game of Thrones like the one above for years, so we’re sorry to see her go. In addition to being the mastermind behind the Game of Thrones marketing machine, she’s handled the publicity campaigns for shows like Band of Brothers, Six Feet Under, True Blood, The Pacific, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Young Pope and more. She’ll be missed.
It’s also important to put her exit in context. Mikialian is far from the only longtime HBO employee to leave recently. Nancy Lesser, HBO’s Executive Vice President of Media and Talent Relations, just left after 35 years with the network. Quentin Schaffer, the company’s Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications, left after 39. (Why are executives always vice presidents of something? Not important.)
Anyway, these exits started happening after former HBO CEO Richard Plepler left the network not long after AT&T bought HBO’s parent company Time Warner. To make a long story short, it looks like AT&T wants to make some changes at HBO, and is pushing the network to release a greater volume of content. From my vantage point, it looked like Plepler, who was with the company for almost 30 years before leaving (and who now is being courted by Apple TV+, by the way), wasn’t comfortable with the new direction, and I’m betting some of the other members of the old guard felt the same way.
Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it looks like change is coming. It’ll be interesting to see how HBO changes the way it does things over the next couple of years, as pressure from the likes of Disney+ and Amazon increases. Whatever Mikialian does now, we wish her the best!