UPDATE: Warner Bros Taps Former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers As Communications Chief; Sue Fleishman Exiting

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 10:41am PDT

UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM MYERS AND FLEISHMAN: DeeDeeMyersWarner Bros has hired former White House Press Secretary and longtime political strategist/analyst Dee Dee Myers as EVP Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs replacing nine-year veteran Sue Fleishman. The move comes after Fleishman had to negotiate through a very rocky transition at the studio through several shakeups in 2013. That included the ascension of new Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara and the exits of the other two WB biggies angling for that gig — Warner Bros TV boss Bruce Rosenblum last May and Warner Brothers Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov the next month.

warnerbros_logoMyers is coming into a studio rocked by these exits. And although Warner Bros is still reaping the benefits of the pictures greenlit by Robinov — Gravity, The Lego Movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire, and others — it is being led by a studio chairman who has been in the job only a year and is seen as still trying to get his footing. The question is what will happen once the studio blows through all the projects set in motion by Robinov and what characteristic mark will Tsujihara make during his tenure?

Myers is a smart, aggressive woman who is not afraid to speak up. In fact, she wrote a book Why Women Should Rule The World about how things might be better worldwide if more women were in leadership roles. Her husband has long worked as a journalist (at the New York Times and Politico) and is currently the national editor and political correspondent at Vanity Fair (where Myers also wrote). DeeDeeMyersClintonOriginally from Los Angeles, she worked for many years with former Mayor Tom Bradley and other politicians before heading to Washington, working with Walter Mondale’s campaign, Michael Dukakis, Dianne Feinstein, and then, of course, with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton as the White House press secretary for the first two years of the administration. She was the first female press secretary and one of the youngest to hold the job.

She is certainly not the first political press secretary/strategist to make the move to Hollywood. Years ago, Anna Perez, Barbara Bush’s press secretary, was hired at CAA. Zenia Mucha, currently EVP and chief communications officer at Disney, worked  for Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and NY Gov. George Pataki. And Kori Bernards at Universal Pictures previously worked at the MPAA and in D.C. for 13 years with then-Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi (now House Minority Leader). “There is a fair number of people who go back and forth,” said Myers. “There’s an affinity between politics and entertainment but that being said, it’s very different and there will be a transition for me.” Read More »

Comments (13)

Governor Jerry Brown Talks Up California’s Revitalized Economy To Roomful Of Hollywood Heavyweights

Governor Jerry Brown talked about the promise of California and played up the state’s economic comeback during a campaign fundraiser Thursday at Disney Studio boss Alan Horn’s Bel-Air home. … Read More »

Comments (7)

Alan Horn & Other Studio Bosses Set Big Jerry Brown Fundraiser Next Month

His re-election is a year away and as much of a sure thing as anything can be in politics but Hollywood moguls unsurprisingly are already opening up their check books for Jerry Brown now. A $1,000 to $27,200 … Read More »

Comments (2)

Warner Bros Sets RatPac-Dune To Co-Finance Slates After Legendary Exit

Mike Fleming

As Deadline reported in the summer, Warner Bros Pictures has found its replacement to fill the void left when Thomas Tull moved Legendary Pictures down the road to Universal. RatPac-Dune Entertainment has made a multi-year agreement to co-finance as many as 75 upcoming titles at up to $450 million. The announcement was made today by Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara and by Steven Mnuchin, Brett Ratner and James Packer of RatPac-Dune Entertainment, the film finance vehicle formed by Mnuchin and RatPac Entertainment to co-finance the Warner Bros Pictures slate.

Related:
RatPac Could Be Lead Funder With Dune In Warner Bros Slate Deal
Oz Billionaire James Packer Partners With Brett Ratner On RatPac

The co-fi deal starts with the October 4 release Gravity, and the December 25 release Grudge Match. The studio laid off risk in the past with Village Roadshow Pictures and Legendary.

“We are very pleased to be entering into this relationship with RatPac-Dune Entertainment,” said Tsujihara. “This agreement gives us increased strength and flexibility in the motion picture division and an even greater ability to manage risk as we continue to produce high-quality filmed entertainment for the global audience. We look forward to working with their team as we move forward in this exciting new partnership with a truly great organization.” Read More »

Comments (6)

Warner Bros Chief Says Ben Affleck Is “Perfect” For New Vision Of Batman

The Dark Knight in the unnamed sequel to Man Of Steel is “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while,” Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara told investors at the Bank of America … Read More »

Comments 34

Analysis: Did The Academy Just Get A Lot More Diverse?

Pete Hammond

With 276 membership invitations going out today — exactly 100 more new members than were invited to join the elite 6000+ organization last year — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has clearly begun to live up to its goal of being more inclusive. And not only in increasing its numbers but also in the group’s stated goal of increasing diversity. One person I spoke with today who was involved in the selection of new members from their branch was worried that the Academy might be drifting into affirmative action territory and cutting out more deserving applicants. But outgoing Academy president Hawk Koch was thrilled with the results of the initiative, which was approved at a Board of Governors meeting last October. It’s one he personally lobbied for with every peer group as they considered applications for membership to their individual branches.

Related: Academy Membership Quotas Dissolved: Does It Mean Anything?

When we spoke this morning, Koch said it was “mission accomplished” but added that along with diversity he emphasized qualifications. “I did say along with that our criteria doesn’t change: They still have to be the best of the best, just be aware of diversity”, he said. “I am very excited that we have such a talented and diverse group of artists and filmmakers. It’s like everything else I have tried to do this year. We are moving forward. We are more inclusive and are cultivating the next generation, and that’s what we need to do”. Read More »

Comments (6)

2ND UPDATE: WARNER BROS SHAKE-UP – Jeff Robinov Quitting Movie Studio After No New Contract Offered And Kevin Tsujihara’s War Of Silence; Sue Kroll, Dan Fellman, And Greg Silverman May Become Triumvirate

FRIDAY 5 AM, 2ND UPDATE: I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov’s attorney Skip Brittenham officially notified Warner Bros on Thursday that it is in breach of the movie mogul’s contract, and he wants to negotiate his exit.

THURSDAY 6 PM UPDATED THROUGHOUT… EXCLUSIVE 2:45 PM: The destabilization of once rock-solid Warner Bros continues. I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov has decided to leave as Warner Brothers Pictures Group President after months of waiting in vain for Time Warner Jeff Bewkes and Warner Bros Chairman Kevin Tsujihara to offer him a new contract when his expires in December. Robinov is on vacation in New Mexico and this week enlisted both his attorney Skip Brittenham and his friend and former Warner Bros chairman Bob Daly to negotiate his exit. Robinov’s frustration follows Bewkes and Tsujihara placing him inside the ‘cone of silence’ in recent weeks ever since the home entertainment chief was appointed as the new Warner Bros CEO and soon to be chairman. No phone calls of congratulations came from Bewkes or Tsujihara to Robinov after last weekend’s record-setting global successful opening of Man Of Steel or any of the studio’s Summer 2013 big worldwide releases, The Great Gatsby and The Hangover Part III.

[EXCLUSIVE below: Ben Affleck and Baz Luhrmann reflect on their relationships with Robinov while Christopher Nolan's is detailed.]

Witnesses tell me that on the LA to NY plane trip to the Superman premiere June 10th, Tsujihara sat for the five hours not saying a word to Robinov who was sitting opposite him. This cruel behavior was in full view of not only Robinov’s execs but also of the Man Of Steel filmmakers like Christopher Nolan whom Robinov had brought to the studio. I’m told that at the Red Carpet gala at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which should have been his triumph, Robinov left demoralized after just 15 minutes. This, after he and Tsujihara used to be close friends who went on family vacations together. “I’m constantly being marginalized. My job is shrinking day-to-day,” Robinov confided to a pal the other day. “Kevin is starting to push me out by both the things he’s doing and the responsibilities he’s assuming. It’ll end up with everyone reporting to him. The result is that people at the studio are wondering how they can benefit from this or how they can not get hurt by this. Sitting around is not something I can do, or, by the end of the year, the studio will be in a massive mess.”

I’ve learned that the structure being contemplated for Warner Bros Pictures is not for any one person to replace Robinov, who was a rarity in recent Hollywood in that he did both the business and creative top job at a studio. Instead, his Warner Bros Pictures executives Sue Kroll, President of Worldwide Marketing; Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution; and Greg Silverman, President of Production, would run the studio as a triumvirate under Tsujihara who will take over the business side even though he has no such movie experience. Read More »

Comments 123

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros TV Shake-Up – Top Exec Bruce Rosenblum Settled Out And Peter Roth Signed To Big Long-Term Deal; All The Behind-The-Scenes Drama & Detail

UPDATE SUNDAY 2 PM: Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara is finally confirming internally my news that Warner Bros Television Group Bruce Rosenblum is exiting. This, after Tsujihara for months and even in recent weeks has told almost everyone there that Rosenblum was staying.

BREAKING … SATURDAY 10 PM… EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood always fires people in success, or so the saying goes. I’ve learned that Warner Bros TV Bruce Rosenblum Outthe announcement by Warner Bros Entertainment CEO (and soon-to-be-chairman) Kevin Tsujihara is planned for 7 to 14 days after next week’s TV upfront presentations. Despite Tsujihara’s claims for months that he hadn’t made up his mind what to do about the brilliant but sharp-elbowed Bruce Rosenblum, I can tell you Tsujihara declared from Day Bruce Rosenblum Warner Bros TVOne of his new job that “Bruce is an unnecessary layer of management”. This, even though Rosenblum’s Warner Bros Television Group consistently contributes half of Warner Bros Entertainment’s profits year after year. I’m told that Rosenblum won’t be replaced as President of the Warner Bros Television Group now that he’s quietly settled out his contract which expires in August. (Tsujihara never made a move to negotiate a new one for him.) Some already expect Rosenblum not to turn up at next week’s upfronts. Instead Bruce is sitting on a fat severance package in recognition of his more than two outstanding decades at Warner Bros and for keeping his mouth shut during the humiliation of losing the WB CEO job and then getting kicked to the curb on top of that. Many in Hollywood thought Tsujihara might keep Rosenblum in place rather than bust up what is so obviously a winning formula atop the TV group. Instead Tsujihara proved that, just like his Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes, he is more obsessed by politics and personality than profit. (“It would have been pretty awkward, quite frankly,” Tsujihara told the TV community about keeping Rosenblum on.)

Warner Bros Television President Peter Roth has just been signed to a new long-term deal and will report to Tsujihara for the first time. Roth reps the increasing power of content and the executives directly responsible for its creation. ”As I look at the key people that exist, Peter comes at the top of the list. He’s at the top of the game right now creatively,” Tsujihara enthused privately on Day One of his new job. But Rosenblum’s roles will be assumed by a new WBTV leadership mix including Warner Bros TV Group EVP Craig Hunegs, Warner Bros International Distribution President Jeffrey Schlesinger, and Warner Bros Television EVP Brett Paul. (“Peter is the big teddy bear but Brent was sent in to beat you up,” notes one exec.) These guys are some of what Bewkes was referring to back on January 28th when he talked about the “very strong benches of people beneath”. All will become the TV group’s new sharp-elbowed negotiators who won’t rub people the wrong way like Rosenblum did.

It’s been a professional and emotional roller-coaster for Rosenblum ever since he expected the top job and didn’t get it. Read More »

Comments 50

Jeff Bewkes Lauds Kevin Tsujihara, And Warner Bros’ Prospects

By | Wednesday February 6, 2013 @ 9:34am PST

The Time Warner CEO says he gave the top studio job to Warner Bros‘ former Home Entertainment Group chief Kevin Tsujihara in part because he “has the greatest breadth of experience across Warner Bros’ businesses” including … Read More »

Comments (6)

UPDATED SHOCKER! Kevin Tsujihara To Become Warner Bros CEO; Bruce Rosenblum And Jeff Robinov Didn’t Find Out Until Late Last Week; “I’m Disappointed; Who Wouldn’t Be?” Rosenblum States; “Excellent Choice,” Robinov Says

2ND UPDATE (includes Robinov statement): Hollywood is stunned. Time Warner Chairman/CEO Jeff Bewkes just destabilized Warner Bros in a big way with today’s shockingly Kevin Tsujihara Warner Bros CEOunexpected announcement that Kevin Tsujihara will take over Warner Bros on March 1st. I actually heard this two weeks ago from a source – and I didn’t believe it. That’s not a knock on Tsujihara’s ability. But no way Bewkes could ignore the fact that Bruce Rosenblum‘s Warner Bros Television Group accounts for 50% of overall Warner Bros revenues.* But Bewkes did. “Obviously, I’m disappointed; who wouldn’t be?” said Rosenblum, the TV president who was actively campaigning for the post, in a surprisingly candid statement. ”Warner Bros is a unique and special place and I know it will be in good hands with Kevin at the helm. I continue to be proud of our accomplishments and I have the most respect and admiration for our amazing team at the studio – a team that is thriving in an ever-transforming business.” Warner Bros Film Group topper Jeff Robinov at first remained silent and his office told Deadline it was “highly unlikely” he would have a statement. Now, one has been released – and it’s studiedly upbeat: “I am truly happy and proud of Kevin. We are both good friends and colleagues and I think he’s an excellent choice for the job. The Company will be in great shape under his leadership,” said Robinov. In fact, insiders tell me that Bewkes further humiliated Rosenblum and Robinov by not telling them about the choice of Tsujihara. I understand the duo had to hear about it at the last minute late last week from outgoing Barry Meyer.

[*Time Warner doesn't break out Warner Bros in its financial statements so that statistic may include Turner which doesn't report to Bruce. Warner Bros results are included in the 'Film And TV Entertainment' unit. It accounted for 40% of Time Warner revenues in the first 9 months of last year - $8.3B out of $20.6B - but just 17% of operating profit - $676M out of $3.9B. While Time Warner doesn't break out numbers for Warner Bros Television, it has revenues for "Theatrical Product" and "Television Product." Theatrical product accounted for $4B in the first 9 months ($1.4B from film rentals, $1.3B from home video and electronic delivery, $1.1B from TV licensing, and $127M from consumer products and other). Television product came to $3.4B ($2.6B from TV licensing, $617M from home video and electronic delivery, and $208M from consumer products and other).]

Here’s what Bewkes and Meyer said about their decision in a joint statement: “Given the talent, depth and strength of the Warner Bros’ leadership, selecting our next CEO was not a decision that could be made hastily or lightly. But we both agreed that Kevin is the right person to lead Warner Bros. and to build on its proud heritage as the world’s most storied content producer… In 2005, Kevin was appointed to head the then newly formed Home Entertainment Group, which he has skillfully led through a difficult transition and which remains number one in the industry by every measure. Just as importantly, he is a leading voice in creating and deploying new digital models to ensure that we remain market leaders. We’ve both been very impressed with Kevin’s strategic understanding and intuitive grasp of the evolution of the consumer’s interaction with our television shows, films and video games, and his ability to visualize how our products will be enjoyed in the future.” Warner Bros Home Entertainment’s division covers home video as well as the company’s wide ranging videogame properties and investments, digital distribution, anti-piracy, and emerging technology operations

Few thought Robinov was seriously in the running for the top job since he’d only taken over as film studio president in Spring 2011 from outgoing Alan Horn (now heading up Walt Disney Studios after Bewkes unceremoniously kicked him to the curb). But conventional wisdom was that Rosenblum, who took over the TV group in 2005 the same year that Tsujihara took over Home Entertainment, had a near lock on the job – especially if Bewkes decided not to go outside. And an appointment of Rosenblum would have continued Meyer’s TV leadership at Warner Bros and therefore not been questioned. Sounds to me like Meyer betrayed Rosenblum. Of course, Rosenblum still has an alternative power platform as Chairman of the Board of the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences since November 2011. Robinov, meanwhile, has kept and is keeping his head down, immersed in developing powerhouse franchises like The Hobbit and perhaps Man Of Steel to replace Harry Potter and the most recent Batman trilogy.

Undoubtedly, Tsujihara’s new appointment will spark debate inside and outside Hollywood over whether Home Entertainment is most important to the future of Big Media. And whether content or platform/delivery should dominate. Of course, Bewkes could have (and in my opinion, should have) done nothing for several more years, and simply allowed his Warner Bros troika to coexist as equals. Now Bewkes, especially given the harshly crude way he handled this announcement, is risking the loss of two superlative executives. Keep tuned. Read More »

Comments 75