WARNER RE­ALIGNS ITS TOP EX­ECS

Los Angeles Times - - Business - Clau­dia Eller

Time Warner Inc. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Jeff Bewkes, ready­ing a man­age­ment suc­ces­sion plan at Warner Bros., has asked stu­dio Chair­man and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Barry Meyer to re­main on board for an ad­di­tional two years and named three top ex­ec­u­tives to a newly formed Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent.

Un­der the re­align­ment, stu­dio Pres­i­dent and Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Alan Horn, who has been in his job 11 years, will step down in April — eight months ear­lier than planned — and be­come a con­sul­tant un­til Meyer re­tires in De­cem­ber 2013.

Both Meyer and Horn were given two-year con­tract ex­ten­sions last year and were orig­i­nally ex­pected to de­part at the end of 2011. Bewkes said he was ex­tend­ing Meyer’s con­tract be­cause he wanted to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion to the new man­age­ment team. The move scotches spec­u­la­tion

that Bewkes would reach out­side the stu­dio to find new lead­er­ship.

“We’re ready to start the suc­ces­sion process now,” Bewkes said.

To that end, the Time Warner chief cre­ated the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent to bring to­gether three of the stu­dio’s top man­agers: Warner Bros. Mo­tion Pic­tures Group Pres­i­dent Jeff Robi­nov, who will be­come the stu­dio’s top film ex­ec­u­tive with green­light author­ity when Horn leaves; Warner Bros. Tele­vi­sion Group Pres­i­dent Bruce Rosen­blum; and Home En­ter­tain­ment Chief Kevin Tsu­ji­hara.

All three ex­ec­u­tives will re­tain their cur­rent du­ties and take on broader re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for op­er­a­tions of the stu­dio, help­ing strate­gize busi­ness ini­tia­tives as dis­tri­bu­tion plat­forms for en­ter­tain­ment con­tinue to con­verge and tra­di­tional mod­els get re­drawn by new tech­nolo­gies.

“All these busi­ness mod­els need to have a rig­or­ous de­bate,” Bewkes said. “These three will work as a unit to­ward evolv­ing Warner Bros. to the next era of be­ing a more dig­i­tal and more global com­pany.”

Bewkes is now mak­ing it very clear that he has no plans to bring in an out­sider to run Warner Bros. af­ter Meyer leaves. “We think we have suc­ces­sion in­side Warner Bros.,” he said.

But some in­side the stu­dio fear that plac­ing Robi­nov, Rosen­blum and Tsu­ji­hara on an equal foot­ing will only ratchet up com­pe­ti­tion over the chief ex­ec­u­tive role, cre­at­ing a pub­lic con­test that un­der­mines sta­bil­ity.

Bewkes said that wouldn’t be tol­er­ated: “Nei­ther Barry or I like or value jock­ey­ing, and any­one who does it elim­i­nates them­selves.”

Warner Bros. has long prided it­self on or­derly man­age­ment, with the prior regime of Bob Daly and Terry Semel last­ing for two decades. Meyer, who has worked at Warner Bros. for nearly four decades, said he wanted the next gen­er­a­tion to carry on that tra­di­tion.

“I’m here to help these three guys grow into the se­nior man­age­ment of the com­pany and help them move a step be­yond each of their busi­nesses to un­der­stand how they are in­ter­locked with each other,” he said. “The dig­i­tal tran­si­tion has taught us that these busi­nesses don’t ex­ist in si­los.”

Meyer has played a key role in nav­i­gat­ing Warner Bros.’ tran­si­tion in the dig­i­tal age, and with Horn has de­liv­ered re­li­able prof­its in film, TV and home en­ter­tain­ment, with such movie fran­chises as “Harry Pot­ter” and “Bat­man” and pop­u­lar TV shows such as “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang The­ory.”

Warner Bros. ac­counts for 43% of Time Warner’s an­nual rev­enue and 23% of op­er­at­ing in­come, Bewkes said, iden­ti­fy­ing the stu­dio’s pri­or­i­ties as con­tin­u­ing to de­velop hit movies and TV se­ries and evolv­ing busi­ness mod­els to make con­tent avail­able in all for­mats and for global au­di­ences.

Horn ad­mit­ted he had bit­ter­sweet feel­ings about leav­ing. He’s been groom­ing Robi­nov for the top movie job, hand­ing him ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for phys­i­cal pro­duc­tion, mu­sic and mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion, while less­en­ing his own work­load. “Sure, it’s un­com­fort­able be­ing the only one leav­ing and hav­ing Barry stay and the oth­ers pro­moted,” he said, “but hav­ing given away much of my port­fo­lio, and my work hav­ing gone down con­sid­er­ably, it’s time to find some­thing more in­ter­est­ing.”

Robi­nov is cred­ited with help­ing Horn shape the stu­dio’s “event film” strat­egy, which has paid off hand­somely with the “Harry Pot­ter” fran­chise and such hits as di­rec­tor Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and “In­cep­tion.” Robi­nov, a for­mer tal­ent agent who joined Warner in 1997, is known for hav­ing an edgier taste than Horn and has pushed for films such as “In­cep­tion” and the raunchy com­edy “The Han­gover.”

Warner Bros.

AP­POINTED: Three of Warner Bros.’ man­agers, from left, Jeff Robi­nov, Bruce Rosen­blum and Kevin Tsu­ji­hara, have been named to the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent.

Warner Bros.

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