Following the departure of Kevin Tsujihara, John Stankey of WarnerMedia promises to appoint interim leaders while seeking a permanent replacement.
The race is open for one of Hollywood's most popular jobs.
Just two weeks after John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia, entrusted Kevin Tsujihara with additional responsibilities, Stankey now has to replace the chief executive officer of Warner Bros., who resigned Monday in the midst of an investigation aimed at determine if he had intervened in the casting process on behalf of an actor. young actress with whom he had an affair.
While Warner Bros. is already struggling with the uncertainty of a new owner at AT & T, Stankey plans to quickly set up an interim team to lead the studio while seeking a permanent replacement in Tsujihara. In a memo announcing the departure of Tsujihara, Stankey wrote, "I am committed to working diligently and quickly to minimize any disruption to the studio's daily activities as a result of this leadership transition. I will share tomorrow with you all an interim management structure. Toby Emmerich, who oversees the studio's film operations as president of Warner Bros.'s film group, and Peter Roth, who oversees television as president of the Warner Bros. television group. widely expected to be tapped, with a third executive – possibly, Carolyn Blackwood, co-chair of Warner's New Line Cinema unit.
But finding a permanent replacement in Tsujihara is a much more complicated proposition. Tsujihara has overseen film and television, as well as games, digital distribution and new media. And as part of Stankey's recent reorganization of WarnerMedia, Tsujihara had been named head of a new company for children and young adults, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang. Otter Media's digital content creator, Turner Classic Movies, and licensed consumer product development for all WarnerMedia properties have also been added to its portfolio.
The exit of Tsjujihara, after March 6th Hollywood Reporter An article about her relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk and her efforts to get her work done in Warners movies and TV shows offers a rare opportunity for an experienced executive to embark on a studio chair position. Although Stankey has not yet defined a job description for the role, many veterans of the industry have been discussed in the city.
Stacey Snider is cited as one of Warners' top female leadership candidates, as she will step down as CEO of 20th Century Film Film once Disney takes over Fox this week, though two sources claim that Snider has not yet been contacted. Thomas O. Staggs, who was trained as the successor to Bob Iger at the helm of Disney, but resigned from his post of director of operations in 2016, is another possible candidate, even though he would also have been convened by CBS Corp.
Stankey would be particularly interested in hiring a woman for the Warner position, as he recently directed Bob Greenblatt to head WarnerMedia Entertainment, giving CNN President Jeff Zucker the authority on news and sports and making Turner International President Gerhard Zeiler the leader of WarnerMedia Income Agent – all involved men. At the same time, "he will do what is good for business, regardless of sex," predicts a source close to the process.
Other names that may also be on this list include former CBS Director Nancy Tellum, who is currently Executive Director in MGM's Executive Director's Office, who is studying long-term strategies; Donna Langley, President of the Universal Film Entertainment Group; and Gail Berman, who served as President of Paramount Pictures from 2005 to 2007 and is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jackal Group, an independent production entity formed in partnership with the Fox Networks Group.
According to Hal Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Management, executive search, no matter how quickly it is solved, will likely result in a setback for Stankey's major projects. "Tsujihara was settling into a broader strategic role, and any replacement, whether internal or external, will likely require at least a year and a half to define the direction and place their own people in compatible roles and relationships, "he says. "In my opinion, AT & T does not have the local knowledge to do this quickly and efficiently, as recent changes in HBO management have suggested, many experienced leaders who know that fundamentals are no longer up to par. "
If Stankey does not manage to find the same leader at home in the fields of film, television and digital, suggests a Warners observer, he could split the post up, hire a CEO to oversee the film and to bring another officer, reporting to the CEO, to manage television, including cable networks that have just been handed over to Tsujihara. "Television will account for more than 50% of the division's profitability, and no current leader could oversee the expanding television sector," said the source, noting that Warners has always had a similar organization. When Barry Meyer, whose background was on television, was appointed President and CEO of Warners in 1999, Alan Horn was responsible for overseeing the movies as President and Chief Operating Officer. Another option might be to give the film and television to the same executive (after all, the talent migrates largely between the two mediums these days) and pair it with a second administrator overseeing the games and other interactive media.
"Toby and Peter are incredibly talented. There is no vacuum or lack of management, "says Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG Research. "But if you want to create and consolidate a direct-to-consumer service, everything in cinema and television needs to be integrated into one entity, and everything has to be integrated with Greenblatt. With a single content entity, everything would go in the same direction. Netflix does not have a separate film and television division of its streaming division. Part of the problem with Warners and Disney is that they have separate entities. "
If Stankey chooses to set up a triumvirate, there is also a precedent for Warners. When Jeff Robinov left as studio director in 2013, Meyer and Tsujihara created an operational triumvirate that included Emmerich, who was then running New Line; Greg Silverman, director of the then-Warners production; and Sue Kroll, the former director of marketing.
Emmerich, who started his career at New Line, was promoted to president of Warners in 2016 and is president of the film production group, overseeing production, marketing and distribution since early 2018. Roth – who spent 10 years at ABC, before joining Fox where he was He was finally named president of Fox Entertainment in 1996. He has been at Warners since 1999 and was promoted to head of the television group in 2013.
Blackwood, who joined New Line as a production lawyer in 1999, is currently co-chair of New Line, alongside Richard Brenner. In addition to serving as a liaison between New Line and other Warners divisions, she also oversees Warner Bros. Theater Ventures, the theater division of the company.
Despite Stankey's promise to act quickly, the events of the last two weeks – March 8, Tsujihara apologized in the midst of the misbehaving investigation – have already been disruptive. Last week, Warner Bros. canceled a city hall scheduled for March 15 that should have been run by Tsujihara in a victory round after his recent promotion. The move was so abrupt that leaflets for the event could still be found on the Burbank field a day before the event. The town hall has since been postponed to April.
Vogel observes, "This kind of upheaval has a long history going on in major entertainment companies, but not so much in the relatively more fixed telecommunications sector. I guess AT & T underestimated these types of risks when they made their offer. "
– Pamela McClintock and Kim Masters contributed to this report.