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Horak, Feig, Hardwick, Packer, Schwartz and HBO Honored at ‘Variety’ Hall of Fame

9 Dec, 2015 By: Chris Tribbey

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It was a bittersweet night for Mark Horak.

The long-time home entertainment industry vet was inducted into the Variety Home Entertainment and Digital Hall of Fame Dec. 8, honoring his work as both a former executive with Warner and his leadership role in the retail business, as president of Redbox.

His induction came the same week that Redbox parent company Outerwall announced Horak was stepping down from his role, less than two years after he left his position as president of the Americas at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Horak (who was also praised for his work raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) admitted he was “hard on Redbox” during his time with Warner — which helped lead the push for a 28-day delay on new-release titles at the rental outlet — but said he found his time with the kiosk company beyond rewarding. He added that he regretted that he wouldn’t be able to continue implementing his vision for Redbox’s future.

“I’ve had the privilege of speaking before the industry before, but this is the most moving for me,” Horak said. “Hollywood wouldn’t be what it is without home entertainment. It’s been so rewarding to [work] with so many of you.”

Horak’s heartfelt acceptance speech was followed by fellow Hall of Fame honoree Chris Hardwick, who brought some levity to the evening, joking that he didn’t know if he deserved to be honored with Deloitte’s Media & Entertainment Leadership Award.

“I don’t know if I deserve this award or not, but I do know I want Mark Horak to be my dad,” the CEO of Nerdist Industries and host of “@Midnight” and “Talking Dead” said. “He’s the sweetest guy in the world. How do you be that sweet and run a company?”

Hardwick used his speech to challenge the media and entertainment industry to do a better job of connecting with fans, something he’s centered his work on in recent years.

HBO was honored by Variety with the Hall of Fame Innovation Award, with the company breaking new ground in entertainment yet again with the introduction of HBO Now, a $15-a-month over-the-top service. Presenting the award, Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, noted that the name HBO has been “synonymous with innovation,” being the first pay-TV channel, first to broadcast via satellite, and the first to have a TV season distributed on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

“Our goal has always been pretty simple: Deliver great programming,” said Sofia Chang, EVP of worldwide distribution and home entertainment for HBO.

Filmmaker Paul Feig (Bridemaids, Spy, the upcoming Ghostbusters remake) closed the evening praising the benefits of bonus features, and joking that maybe there was a reason he was being inducted into a home entertainment hall of fame.

“Is this the nice way of you telling me my films don’t do well in theaters?” he said.

Other honorees for the evening included Jim Packer and Ron Schwartz, co-heads of Lionsgate Worldwide Home Entertainment, with both using their time onstage to tout the benefits of home entertainment today. “Not only is home entertainment not dying … it’s more exciting than ever,” Schwartz said.

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