Mark O’Brien, a veteran syndication sales executive for Warner Bros., founder of Mighty Oak Entertainment and creator of the Whacked Out… series franchise, died Nov. 9 at his Newport Beach, California, home. He was 63.
His death was announced by friend and colleague Scott Carlin. A cause of death was not specified.
O’Brien founded Mighty Oak Entertainment, a television production and distribution company in 2005, and the following year sold his first series, Whacked Out Sports, to NBC owned and operated stations.
The NBC Network included the all-barter show on the prime time feed following NFL Sunday Night Football. After an initial 22 episode order, Whacked Out Sports, a comic collection of sports-related video clips featuring mishaps and crashes, grew into a collection of six original television series airing in domestic syndication, cable and international television. The other series include Goofball Sports, Whacked Out Videos, Monster Knockout and Sportz-A-Palooza.
O’Brien started his career in the mid-1980s at Telepictures, which eventually merged with Lorimar Television. After Lorimar was absorbed into Warner Bros. Television Group, O’Brien became a key player in licensing off-network hits including Friends, ER, Two and a Half Men and first-run programs Ellen, The People’s Court and Extra to the domestic syndication market, according to his Mighty Oak bio. He became a senior vice president in 1999, overseeing sales for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s western region.
O’Brien is survived by brothers Mike, George, Chip and Tom. A video conference memorial service was held for family and friends on Dec. 4.