Steve Stark, MGM TV Executive Who Championed ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ Exits for Producing Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

Longtime MGM Television executive Steve Stark, who championed the studio’s Emmy-winning drama “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is leaving his executive post and transitioning to a producing deal with the studio.

Just over a year ago, Stark was named president of the newly formed MGM/UA Television label and extended his deal with the studio. He had previously served as MGM’s head of scripted television production and development, overseeing all scripted content from concept to production and leading development of new projects. Stark’s segue to a producing role at a time of massive transition for the content business — and persistent sale rumors around MGM — is no surprise. It’s said to have been under discussion for some time.

“MGM has confirmed President of MGM/UA Television Steve Stark will be exiting his role,” a studio spokesperson told Variety. “They plan to announce more details in the coming days.”

Stark joined the studio in 2011 and was the executive who shepherded “Handmaid’s,” the dystopian series based on Margaret Atwood’s beloved novel that won Hulu its first Primetime Emmy in 2017. He was also responsible for FX’s “Fargo,” History’s “Vikings,” Epix’s “Get Shorty,”  and MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” among other notable shows. In his new position as a producer, he will continue to be heavily involved with the studio as a producer on “Handmaid’s,” CBS’ “Clarice,” Netflix’s “Wednesday,” and other series.

Prior to MGM, Stark had an overall deal with Universal Television through his own shingle, Steve Stark Productions. He has overseen or produced more than 2,400 episodes of television and executive produced series such as USA Network’s “Fairly Legal,” NBC’s “The Event,” and CBS’ “Medium,” the latter of which he developed while president of Grammnet Productions, Kelsey Grammer’s production company.

The scripted veteran leaves at a time when MGM is largely acknowledged as being a takeover target. The once-storied studio has gone through a number of management shuffles in recent years, including the 2018 ouster of CEO Gary Barber. MGM has been exploring a potential sale, with the Wall Street Journal reporting in December that the studio had recruited Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC to advise on the process of a formal sale of the company, valued at $5.5 billion including debt.

The pandemic has done it no favors, forcing the studio to delay major theatrical releases as box offices across the globe shuttered indefinitely. Last April, MGM laid off around 50 people, or about 7% of its 750 employees, across the feature film as well as scripted and unscripted TV divisions. Its joint venture with Annapurna Pictures, United Artists Releasing, furloughed a third of its workforce.