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Michael Wright on His New Dreamworks CEO Role, Steven Spielberg: He’s the ‘Ideal Creative Partner’

The former TNT-TBS chief fills the role being vacated by Stacey Snider

Michael Wright has scored one of the most coveted jobs in town. Wright was named DreamWorks CEO on Thursday, and will be taking the post upon Stacey Snider‘s departure at the end of the year. Wright will report directly to Steven Spielberg and will oversee all creative operations at the studio starting on Jan. 3rd, 2015.

DreamWorks is backed by India’s Reliance Entertainment and distributes its films through Disney. The studio has tightened its budgets and announced it plans to make around four films a year.

Wright spent the majority of his career in television, as a VP of movies and miniseries at CBS before a twelve-year at Turner, overseeing series like “The Last Ship,” “Legends” and “Southland.” He worked with Spielberg on “Falling Skies” and “Into the West.”

TheWrap spoke with Wright to see how the exec is taking to his new role.

Also read: Former TNT-TBS Chief Michael Wright Replacing Stacey Snider at DreamWorks

TheWrap: How did you find out you had the job?
Michael Wright:
Steven and I started talking about a month ago. We talk fairly frequently, we have an ongoing dialogue. I let him know that I was going to be leaving over at Turner. He said, let’s talk about that. I thought that he had a couple of great guys over in television and that there wasn’t going to be a whole lot to talk about. But then we started talking about the movie side of things.

It’s been a really amazing journey and honest to God, I won’t even try to be anything but earnest about how it’s an amazing opportunity.

Describe your relationship with Steven
It goes back 11 or 12 years. We met in 2003 when I was pitching him a miniseries I wanted to do at the time. I mention this because from the very beginning, it was a very special creative relationship. We had a fantastic creative dialogue from the beginning. Everyone’s seen it from the way he directs actors, his interaction with creative executives. He is the most ideal creative partner you could have.

Has Stacey passed along any important advice you can share?
It’s ongoing. Stacey and I are friends. She has been incredible and I will certainly be reaching out to her and getting her advice as we move forward.

What are the major challenges you see for yourself as you transition from television to film?
I’m really enthused about tackling them. I am enthused about working with the whole group. I have many years of storytelling experience. … And Holly [Bario], Jeff [Small] — these people are experts. You walk into the door and you know you’re walking into an incredible group of people. I’m coming in with a great sense of humility and humor.

What are your top priorities come January?
To listen and to learn. I want to read everything. Every single script. … I want to get a sense of who we are. If you’re going to be captain of a boat, you have to understand the ocean before you navigate it.

Also read: Disney’s New ‘Frozen’ Short Film Will Premiere in Spring 2015

Three years into the five-year deal with Disney, DreamWorks has only released slightly more than a third of the anticipated 30 films. Is there an issue with that from where you stand? And do you foresee DreamWorks continuing its relationship with Disney?
We have a great relationship with Disney. There is such good work on the runway. It’s been a very productive relationship and all systems are a go.

What’s a project you’re really looking forward to digging into?
I really just got the development report a few days ago. I’m really enthused about our Cold War Spy Thriller, any time Steven and Tom Hanks pair up. And our Roald Dahl film. I just love that we have those films on the runway. They’re very exciting.

So, are you jumping right in, or are you going to take a break?
I’m going to take a bit of time off. But let’s be honest, we’re in this business because we love it. I’ll probably take a few days off and then I’ll probably have them send boxes of scripts over. It’s a marvelous opportunity to have.