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Disney Slammed In Discrimination Suit By 26-Year Veteran Studio Exec

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 4:30pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe former director of the Story Department at Walt Disney Studios is taking the media giant to court with allegations of age discrimination and wrongful termination. In a complaint filed this week in LA Superior Court seeking unspecified damages, Kevin Brady says he was pink-slipped under false pretenses by Disney last June after nearly 26 seemingly successful years with the company. “While the Walt-Disney-Studios-logo-2__130417235820Disney defendants claimed that Plaintiff’s position was eliminated, Plaintiff was actually replaced by an individual in her late 20s or early 30s,” says the 11-page complaint filed Tuesday (read it here) by the 48-year-old.

Being that Brady was making $135,000 a year according to the filing plus heath, pension and retirement benefits, and that he is seeking special and prospective damages due to lost future earnings, this could add up very quickly into the millions if it is calculated to age of retirement. “Additionally, to the extent the Disney defendants contend that Plaintiff’s replacement was hired for a newly created position, the Disney defendants failed to consider or hire Plaintiff for this position even though it is the same or substantially similar to the position that Plaintiff held for the past 10 years of his employment,” reads the filing, which seeks a jury trial. Brady’s apparent replacement in a renamed position was a former assistant of Disney Studios Motion Picture Production president Sean Bailey. And then there’s the kicker: “Further, the Disney defendants have a history and pattern of terminating long term employees and replacing them with younger employees who have less experience at the company.” Read More »

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Alan Horn Extends Disney Studios Contract Until 2018

By | Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 11:16am PDT

Bloomberg Breakfast - 2014 Tribeca Film FestivalWalt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, who oversees worldwide operations for the company, has extended his contract for another four years to 2018. He was named chairman of the studio on May 31, 2012, after a long stint as the chairman of Warner Bros, and his first day at Disney was June 11, 2012. He oversees production, distribution, and marketing for live-action and animated films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, as well as marketing and distribution for DreamWorks Studios films released under the Touchstone Pictures banner. He also oversees Disney’s music and theatrical groups.

Related: ‘Frozen’ Helps To Warm Disney Earnings In Fiscal Q2, And Beyond

Under his tutelage, the studio has been doing incredibly well. For the first three months of the year, the studio reported net income of $1.92B, an increase of 26.7% vs.Frozen the same period last year, on revenues of $11.65B (that’s up 10.4%). In fact, it topped analysts’ forecasts. The movie studio was the hero of the first quarter, with revenues up 35% to $1.8B and operating income up 302% to $475M. The company benefited not only from a $1.19B worldwide box office take for its sweet animated family film Frozen but also reported stellar sales in home entertainment for the pic. Thor: The Dark World also was a box office behemoth, with $644M worldwide, and a home entertainment winner. The success of Frozen has spawned talk of a Broadway show. Theme parks also exceeded analyst predictions with up 8% to $3.56B and operating income up 19% to $457M. The Walt Disney Studios set a company record for reaching $1B internationally in mid-April, thanks mostly to those films, and also $500M domestically on April 27 — becoming the first studio to do so in 2014.

Related: ‘Frozen’ Is Highest Animated Int’l Grosser Of All Time As Disney Reaches $1B In Record Pace

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UPDATE: Conan O’Brien Rips Donald Sterling & CAA At Shoah Foundation Event Honoring President Obama

Obama at ShoahWRITETHRU: President Obama accepted the Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador of Humanity Award from Steven Spielberg tonight during a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Following some jokes from host Conan O’Brien and acoustic takes on set from Bruce Springsteen (“The Promised Land” and a haunting “Dancing In The Dark”), Spielberg presented the president with the honor, after which Obama gave a heartfelt and somber speech before a crowd of about 1,300, according to the White House pool report. He didn’t touch on any subjects directly related to the entertainment industry, but the crowd that included many Hollywood heavy-hitters was moved by its universal themes of violence, war and intolerance. “The work of this foundation,” he said, “the testimonies of survivors like those with us tonight, also remind us that the purpose of memory is not simply to preserve the past; it is to protect the future.” It was the second stop on the president’s visit to Los Angeles. Earlier in the evening, he spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser hosted by Alan and Cindy Horn at their Bel-Air home. The mood was much lighter for the roughly 90 guests, including Jeffrey Katzenberg and Barbra Streisand, who shelled out $64,800 a couple. They heard the president give what amounted to a stump speech that also eschewed any mention of showbiz. Obama will stay overnight before leaving for San Diego in the late morning. A full transcript of his Shoah Foundation speech is at the bottom of the original post.

Related: Obama Rips Cable News & Joel McHale Bombs At White House Correspondents Dinner

4TH UPDATE, 10:15 PM: Host Conan O’Brien kicked off the Shoah Foundation event where President Obama was being honored with a few zingers. “Whoever Steven [Spielberg] suckered to tell jokes at this event is a true idiot,” he said in his opening remarks. The late-night host teased Obama about the traffic gridlock his visit caused. “You left Washington six hours ago, but I left Burbank seven hours ago.” But O’Brien got one of USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala - Showthe night’s biggest laughs when he mentioned Spielberg’s efforts to record Holocaust survivors and other victims of genocide. O’Brien said the filmmaker “was recording evidence of intolerance long before Donald Sterling’s girlfriend.” Obama was seen laughing at the remark. The TBS host also acknowledged the philanthropists and other humanitarians in the room before reminding everyone of the true nature of Hollywood. “I’m also told there are some people from CAA here, so that evens it out,” he said to a huge laugh. “They don’t represent me, so I don’t care.” He then introduced Bruce Springsteen, who played a couple of acoustic numbers including a haunting version of “Dancing In The Dark.” As he introduced Spielberg after the performance, O’Brien recalled a lunch they’d had when he first moved to LA in 2009 for what ended up being a short stint hosting The Tonight Show. “Steven took me on a tour of his awards,” he said. “It took 5 hours.”

Spielberg then took the podium. “Everywhere from Syria to southern Sudan, the world has yet to learn the lessons,” he said of genocide and war during his introduction of Obama.”This program exists because we know the future can be re-written.” Then he introduced the president, who gave a somber and heartfelt speech that ran about 15 minutes.

obamahollywood__120118234033-1__120615023234-1-6__121008025841-200x150__121105180912__130424210450__140430225506“Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will,” Obama said after accepting the Ambassador of Humanity Award from Spielberg. The president passionately praised genocide survivors in the packed ballroom as “inspirations of hope.” He also praised the foundation’s work capturing on video the survivors’ stories “Recording the memories that would be lost to time. … They turn never forget into never again.”

He later said, “It’s up to us to search our own hearts for those stories that have no place in our world.” The president asked the crowd to “erode” the destructive forces of anti-Semitism and other bigotry and injustice. “Drop by drop by drop … never forget, never again,” said Obama, who mention in closing the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria. Read More »

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CinemaCon: Disney’s Alan Horn Says ‘Million Dollar Arm’ Is Highest Testing Movie He’s Ever Had

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 5:16pm PDT
Pete Hammond

CinemaCon2014_badgeAlthough Disney devoted a good chunk of its CinemaCon presentation today to talk of Star Wars and The Avengers and clips of upcoming movies including first looks at the live-action re-telling of Cinderella and Pixar’s Inside Out, theater owners left the near three-hour session really singing the praises of one of the lesser-known films on the slate: the May 16 release Million Dollar Arm. It stars Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, who received the convention’s Excellence In Acting award from studio Chairman Alan Horn just before a full screening of the movie, which Horn told the crowd has scored higher than any movie he has ever tested Jon Hamm Alan Horn handshakeat Disney, or Warner Bros before that. “And that includes the first Harry Potter, which was so highly anticipated,” he said. Judging from the reaction in the Caesars Palace Colosseum theater and comments afterward, those test scores would seem to be justified. This is the kind of increasingly rare non-animated family film that should play across the board. “It’s comical, it’s emotional, it has great music” was what one exhibitor was heard saying as he walked out. That music, by the way, is from two-time Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, who scored Slumdog Millionaire.

Related: Hot Trailer: Jon Hamm In ‘Million Dollar Arm’

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Hell Freezes Over; Harvey Weinstein Teams With Disney On ‘Artemis Fowl’

By | Monday July 29, 2013 @ 3:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Disney and Harvey Weinstein, who had an acrimonious parting of the ways several years ago, are back in business. Walt Disney Studios has announced that it is developing the Eoin Colfer fantasy novel Artemis Fowl, with Harvey Weinstein producing. This live-action film will be based on the first and second installments of Disney Publishing Worldwide’s bestselling series which has sold 21 million copies in 44 languages. Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix) is writing the script and Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal will executive produce the project. Weinstein optioned the book in 2000 through Disney-owned Miramax, along with the Tribeca duo.

Weinstein notes the unlikely nature of a teaming at Disney, but of course the acrimony way back when was between him, his brother Bob and former Disney chief Michael Eisner. The Weinsteins left, and were later rebuffed when they tried to purchase the company named after their parents, and its valuable film library. Disney instead sold it to Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital.

“If you would have told me five years ago I would be producing a project with Disney I would have thought you were crazy,” said the Weinstein Company co-chairman. “I feel as though everything is coming full circle considering Bob De Niro and Jane Rosenthal brought me this book while I was still at Miramax and within hours I told them I … Read More »

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CinemaCon: Disney’s Vegas Act Includes Johnny Depp And ‘Lone Ranger’ Footage

Pete Hammond

Alan Horn today made his CinemaCon debut in his new capacity as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios hosting a long three hour presentation that was a slide show highlighting the studio’s entire slate for the next two years. It included Johnny Depp and a first look at 20 minutes of new footage plus a trailer premiere from Disney’s expensive summer western The Lone RangerFor Marvel, Horn said Robert Downey Jr really delivers in the May 3 release of Iron Man 3 – but not about the ticketing dispute which Deadline scooped between Disney and some some theater chains like AMC. Horn also hyped the November 8th release of the sequel Thor: The Dark World, plugged Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014), and mentioned future offerings Guardians Of The Galaxy, Antman and the sequel The Avengers 2. For Pixar, he gushed about their success rate and quoted from Pixar chief John Lasseter: “Quality is the best business play. I always give him credit for that phrase.” Pixar’s Monsters Inc sequel Monsters University was shown in its entirety with director Don Scanlon telling exhibitors, ”You are one of the very first audiences to see it.” Judging from the reaction during the screening, they seemed to like it. Horn intro’ed toons like Pixar’s The Read More »

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Alan Horn Named Disney Studios Chief

By | Thursday May 31, 2012 @ 12:17pm PDT

UPDATE: This statement from Warner Bros chairman and CEO Barry Meyer just came across:

“Alan was a terrific partner in every sense of the word,” said Barry Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. “He has a profound understanding of the filmmaking process as well as the ability to bridge the creative and business sides of a studio. He’s been a part of some of the most popular films produced in the last decade, and we’re very happy for him. All of his colleagues at Warner Bros. wish him the best.”

BURBANK, Calif. – May 31, 2012 – Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, announced today that Alan Horn has been named Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios effective June 11. Horn will oversee worldwide operations for The Walt Disney Studios including production, distribution and marketing for live-action and animated films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel, as well as marketing and distribution for DreamWorks Studios films released under the Touchstone Pictures banner. Disney’s music and theatrical divisions will also report to Horn.

Horn has been a prominent figure in the film and television industry overseeing creative executive teams responsible for some of the world’s most successful entertainment properties including the Harry Potter film franchise and the hit television series Seinfeld among others.

“Alan not only has an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the business, he has a true appreciation of movie making as both an art and a business,” said Iger. “He’s earned the respect of the industry for driving tremendous, sustained creative and financial success, and is also known and admired for his impeccable taste and integrity. He brings all of this to his new role leading our studio group, and I truly look forward to working with him.”

“I’m incredibly excited about joining The Walt Disney Company, one of the most iconic and beloved entertainment companies in the world,” said Horn. “I love the motion picture business and look forward to making a contribution as part of Bob Iger’s team working closely with the dedicated and talented group at the studio.”

Horn was most recently President and COO of Warner Bros. Entertainment where he had oversight of the Studios’ theatrical and home entertainment operations, including the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Warner Premiere (direct-to-platform production), Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures (live stage) and Warner Home Video. During his 12 year tenure, Warner Bros. Studios was the global box office leader seven times.

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TOLDJA! Raymond Wu & Mark Kaufman Atop Revamped Warner Bros Theatre Ventures

By | Tuesday September 13, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Gregg Maday Out In Shakeup At Warner Bros Theatre Ventures

(September 13, 2011 – Burbank, CA)—Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros., today announced a reorganization of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, with Mark Kaufman and Raymond Wu sharing the position of Executive Vice President, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, the Studio’s live theater production operation. Kaufman, who will be based in New York, and Wu, who will be based in Burbank, will both report to Alan Horn, who is overseeing the division in his consulting role for the Studio, reporting to Meyer.

“It’s great to have Alan’s creative instincts and insight available to Theatre Ventures, with Ray and Mark bringing a terrific combination of experience and proven hit-making talent to our team,” said Meyer. “With this new leadership structure, we can make the most of the myriad opportunities available to Theatre Ventures and take its operations to the next level.”

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BREAKING: Gregg Maday Out In Shakeup at Warner Bros Theatrical Ventures

By | Wednesday September 7, 2011 @ 6:34am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Warner Bros Theatrical Ventures is in for a major shakeup, one that will put former studio chief Alan Horn atop the studio’s theatricals division. I’ve heard that Gregg Maday, who has long headed the studio’s stage ventures, is being let go, and that Raymond Wu will be elevated to the top slot. Word is that he might share the top job with another executive, and that a top candidate is Mark Kaufman. He’s the former New Line executive who moved with Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne when they started the production company Unique Features. But Kaufman was also the hands-on exec in the movie transfer of the hit stage musical Hairspray and the stage transfer of Elf, hatched from the hit New Line movie. I hear all this is imminent. Both execs will report to Horn, who retired as studio chairman last spring. Overhauling this division becomes one of Horn’s major priorities.

While Warner Bros has a Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the offing (it goes into rehearsals in late 2012, after Mendes finishes James Bond, and will open Easter 2013 in the UK), the move follows last weekend’s costly closure of Baby It’s You, the Floyd Mutrux-penned musical based on the songs of the Shirelles. There was also Lestat, an unsuccessful transfer of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire. Elf has been a bright spot and is expected to be trotted out as a holiday perennial. Maday came from CBS Television with big plans to do a musical version of Batman that never really got off the ground. Read More »

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Warner Bros Claims Victory In Domestic, Foreign And Worldwide Market Share

Mike Fleming

BURBANK, CA, January 4, 2011 – The Warner Bros. Pictures Group broke the all-time industry worldwide box office record with a 2010 gross of $4.814 billion, which surpasses the prior record of $4.010 billion (set by Warner Bros. in 2009). The announcement was made today by Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Setting new benchmarks for both the international and global box office grosses in 2010 and retaining the domestic box office number one ranking (after achieving a record gross in 2009), the Studio now holds the industry record in all three categories. Additionally, Warner Bros. surpassed its own worldwide gross from the previous year by $800 million to earn the number one position in worldwide market share for the second consecutive year and for the sixth time in the past 10 years, also an industry record.

“We are so proud of these incredible accomplishments, which were made possible through the global efforts of an exceptional group of people who collaborated to create, produce, market, and distribute more than two dozen films this past year,” said Robinov. “We have a terrific leadership team behind these efforts, including Sue Kroll, Dan Fellman and Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, and, along with Barry Meyer and Alan Horn, I applaud everyone who contributed to this year’s record-breaking success.”

Warner Bros. Pictures’ domestic gross is estimated at $1.884 billion, making it number one in domestic market share for 2010. This is the third year in a row the

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Warner Bros Film Exec Jessica Goodman Exiting At Year’s End

By | Wednesday December 15, 2010 @ 11:28am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros Pictures executive vice president Jessica Goodman will be leaving the studio at year’s end. Goodman informed Alan Horn and Jeff Robinov of her decision to leave months ago, but she stayed on to see through the production of movies. The last of them, the Steven Soderbergh-directed Contagion, wraps in the next few days. Goodman, who is married to Paramount Pictures production chief Adam Goodman, started as an assistant at Universal, but has essentially spent her entire 13 year career at Warner Bros., and meshed well with those Warner Bros producers with out-sized personalities like Joel Silver and Jerry Weintraub. Among the dozens of films she supervised are the upcoming Martin Campbell-directed Ryan Reynolds-starrer Green Lantern, The Informant!, Watchmen, I Am Legend, Michael Clayton, The Brave One, Training Day and the Ocean’s Eleven films. Goodman will take her time deciding her next move.

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OSCAR: Warner Bros Film Boss Alan Horn On Awards Campaigns Past And Present



This is Part 1 from my recent long Q&A with Warner Bros’ Alan Horn who will step down as President/COO in April. Warner Bros has more marquee category awards contenders this year than probably any other studio because of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Ben Affleck’s The Town, and Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. It also boasted a remarkable string of recent winners including Million Dollar Baby and The Departed and Slumdog Millionaire and The Blind Side. But in almost every case, Warner Bros underestimated the picture’s Oscar chances. Studio mogul Alan Horn goes back to the future with me and assesses the campaigns:

DEADLINE: I want to talk to you about this year’s Academy Awards. Your studio has been sitting on its duff about campaigning for Inception. The result is that other movies are overtaking the buzz when your movie should be the logical frontrunner because it did well at the box office and with critics and because Nolan’s The Dark Knight was robbed of a Best Picture nomination. Doesn’t Warner Bros win Oscars in spite of itself?
ALAN HORN: Well, I know that’s how you feel. My response is that, first of all, we care about the Oscars and enjoy Oscar attention. A win is a very, very big deal. It’s very prestigious, it’s very exciting, plus we are a filmmaker friendly company and have long-term relationships with filmmakers. Of course Clint Eastwood comes to mind immediately, but now Chris Nolan and even the emerging Ben Affleck are our filmmakers that we really care about deeply and we want to do right by them. We want to do everything we can to have a strong Oscar campaign. Because we want to win. But we feel that for Inception, we have to coordinate it of course with Chris and with Emma Thomas and with Leo. But what comes to mind for me is, did you see the horse race with Zenyatta by any chance?

DEADLINE: No
HORN: This horse won 19 out of 20 times.  It’s a filly racing against all these giant male horses. She’s six years old whereas all the others were 3 years old. She’d never lost, and then just by a nose on the 20th and final race of her career. It was a very exciting thing. I don’t know anything about horses or horse-racing but I happened to see it. And it made me think of our conversation about the Oscars because the nominations come out, as you know, the end of December. Then the ballots go out. And then the voting takes place and all that. Our campaign is scheduled to start in a big way timed to that schedule. We are going to go very big for Inception. But we are also going to push for Hereafter because of the relationship with Clint. And for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 although no one really expects a lot of attention for Harry Potter until the final installment which will be next summer. And for The Town because we all think that Ben did just a hell of a job, a really good job. We want to do it right. There is no intention on our part to give short shrift to this, to be cheap about it, or to be stupid about it either. So what my understanding is for Inception is that we’re going to start very heavily doing editorial pieces, we are going to screen the picture like crazy, we’re going to have online participation and print too. It won’t be for lack of trying or spending money.

DEADLINE: But are you too late?
HORN: Well, we don’t think so. That’s why I brought up the horse race. This horse Zenyatta always started at the end of the pack and all of a sudden she comes on like a freight train. And the question for us is: what’s the right timing? Because if you peak too soon, you may blow all the money before people really focus on it. So it’s a big debate you could have but we sure are trying to do it right.

DEADLINE: Clint was not shy about telling people that you did not want to push his Million Dollar Baby because you didn’t see it as an Oscar film. You didn’t even want to greenlight it. Which goes back to the gripe that your studio wins Oscars in spite of itself. Read More »

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TOLDJA! James Nesbitt Lands ‘The Hobbit’

Mike Fleming

LOS ANGELES November 1, 2010 – British actor James Nesbitt (Millions and TV’s Cold Feet), is the latest actor to join the ensemble cast of The Hobbit, it was jointly announced today by New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, and MGM.
Nesbitt will play Bofur, a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf. “James’s charm, warmth and wit are legendary as is his range as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles. We feel very lucky to be able to welcome him as one of our cast,” said director Peter Jackson. Newcomer Adam Brown will play Ori, another of the Dwarf Company which sets out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the infamous dragon, Smaug.

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SHAKEUP: Warner Bros Unveils Succession



2ND WRITETHRU (UPDATES 1:30 & 4:15 PM VERSIONS): Warner Bros Chairman/CEO Barry Meyer stays on for 2 more years. President/COO Alan Horn leaves next April and becomes consultant until the end of 2013. An Office Of The President is created and shared by Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum, and Kevin Tsujihara. Those are the headlines from today’s shakeup and succession announcement. This was expected, especially when Meyer kept dropping hints around Hollywood recently that he wanted to stay on. So was Horn, but the bad blood that’s existed between him and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes is legion. After all, Horn never cozied up to Bewkes even when Jeff was rumored to be taking over the top Time Warner job. “Alan never reached out to Jeff. Even with all the rumors of Jeff’s impending promotion, Alan never chased a relationship with Jeff at all. Never,” according to an insider. That dictated Alan would be gone according to the March 2009 don’t-let-the-door-hit-in-you-in-the-ass schedule of 2 years dictated by Bewkes. But not Barry now. “Alan’s really very hurt. He’s a very prideful guy,” a Horn pal tells me today. “It would have been much easier for him if Barry was leaving at the same time. Until very recently, Alan’s expectation was that he and Barry would be.” (How Horn could not have known what everybody else in Hollywood did, that Meyer wanted another 2 years, demonstrates how out of touch he has been and still is. But that is the result of Alan’s peculiar arrogance.)

I’ve just learned that Bewkes behind the scenes clarified his intentions to the new co-president troika. He told them he was not delaying succession. Instead, he made it clear that in 2 1/2-to-3 years, the trio of execs will be running Warner Bros together — that is, unless one of them fucks up. Bewkes told them: “I’m not bringing someone in and I don’t want a horserace. The 3 of you bring different skill sets to this so I want you to do this together.”

So why was Barry renewed for 2 more years? I’m told to “ease the transition”. There’s the transition with Wall Street because Bewkes has begun positioning Time Warner as a TV-centric company, noting that 80% of the Big Media behemoth’s profitability is from Turner, HBO, and half of Warner Bros. But there’s also another transition Meyer must ease, according to some of my sources. ”Bewkes is not so confident that Jeff [Robinov] is ready to step up, that he has the visibility or stature or personality to lead a theatrical division. Bewkes lets Rosenblum and Tsujihara talk to analysts. Robinov does not. Bewkes does not perceive Robinov at the same level. So Bewkes wants Barry on the front lines.” But, of all the co-presidenting trio, Robinov is the only one now with clear air. He no longer has to answer to Horn for greenlight authority after April 1st, and Meyer has always backburnered anything film-related. Whereas Rosenblum and Tsujihara still have their boss around. But Meyer gave them far more authority than Horn ever gave Robinov. (More on Robinov below.)

Meyer also positioned himself inside Hollywood and with Bewkes as the only mogul who could keep the upcoming Hollywood guild negotiations from running off the rails because he is the most extreme hardliner of all the studio and network bosses. (Indeed, his fellow moguls estimated to me that Barry extended the agony of the WGA strike by at least six weeks because he considered the labor action such a personal affront and didn’t “want to reward a strike”. But then, when SAG didn’t strike, he didn’t want to reward that either.) Today’s announcement comes just days from the kickoff of the negotiations season for contracts expiring in 2011. (On September 27th, SAG and AFTRA will begin jointly bargaining with the AMPTP for 7 weeks, followed by the DGA in mid-November. No date has yet been set for the WGA, whose contract ends May 1, 2011, but Meyer and the moguls and the AMPTP intend to negotiate with the writers last to ensure there’s the most Hollywood pressure on them.)

Back in late 2008-early 2009, when Meyer and Horn were renegotiating their own contracts, Bewkes balked at giving the Warner Bros duo a full 3-year, or 4-year, or 5-year vote of confidence. In the end, after not wanting to renew the pair, Bewkes kept them on a humiliating 2-year choke chain. Bewkes had only been in charge of Time Warner for one year, and Hollywood was waiting for him to shake things up at Warner Bros like when he re-possessed Bob Shaye’s New Line. He’s a cautious man, and he did the cautious thing.

At the time, cranky and tired Barry wanted to retire. But something happened to Meyer when he finally got his expiration date from Bewkes: it reanimated him. Suddenly, he was back doing his job aggressively. Warner Bros TV made a comeback after 2 years of losing clout when it couldn’t produce any successful new shows amid a plethora of expensive creative deals. But profitability wasn’t affected because of a legacy of TV hits. But credit also goes to Bruce Rosenblum, President of the Warner Bros Television Group, who for some time now has ably filled the power vacuum created by Meyer’s once imminent departure. Rosenblum now runs his division almost autonomously. If he titularly comes back under Meyer’s thumb, but don’t expect Bruce to give a shit. “Bruce is all about the hands-on creative and distribution and dealing-making process which Barry allowed him to do a lot more of in recent years. Also, while Barry is sitting back, Bruce is overseeing the TV strategy transition from analog to digital. All digital conversations are going through Bruce’s office.”

As for Horn, he just got more distracted and depleted after the rug was pulled out from under him. And just as stubborn Read More »

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Overture Duo Were Fired By Blackberry

My pal Claudia Eller has a funny little scoop on the LA Times website about how Starz chief Chris Albrecht made a Blackberry mistake that led to Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett’s exit from Overture. (So I gotta ask: is this why moguls like Alan Horn and Ron Meyer refuse to use smart phones or even computers?) On July 1, Albrecht began a vacation in Majorca and read a hush-hush e-mail about the future of the Overture duo. Albrecht tapped out a confidential response suggesting that when he returned on July 12th there should be a discussions about removing the pair. But the reply went to approximately 400 Starz employees and senior executives — including McGurk and Rosett.

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Digital Big Media vs Prehistoric Hollywood

By | Wednesday May 28, 2008 @ 7:47pm PDT

I smirked while watching the highlight reels of Big Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Sir Howard Stringer and Jeff Bewkes being interviewed at the “All Things Digital” confab (aka D6 co-hosted by the Wall Street Journal‘s Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher) taking place right now at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Southern California. And not just because of the stupid stuff that gets said. (For instance that Hollywood “ex”, Barry Diller, seemed very proud today of his Tinseltown putdown which I happen to endorse – ”Hollywood is a community that’s so inbred, it’s a wonder the children have any teeth” – while dissing both sides behind the WGA strike. ) No, what really amuses me is that while the people running the parent companies play at all things Internet, the guys back in Hollywood running the offspring networks and studios are tech-challenged.

Everyone already knows that Universal’s Ron Meyer won’t touch a computer. But not many are aware that Warner Bros’ Alan Horn also isn’t hands-on with a laptop or desktop. So he wastes his assistants’ time by having them print out his emails, collate them and prioritize them, and then input his replies. Horn, like Meyer, is still a phone guy, and he’ll never change the Hollywood way he does business no matter how prehistoric he looks to his Time Warner boss Bewkes. Which no doubt is why Horn insists on carrying a Blackberry even though I’m told it’s mostly just for show. C’mon, in any other arena, computer know-nothings would be asking, … Read More »

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