Now, Bewkes, as a single unifying force, has assembled the next generation of Time Warner leadership. He oversaw the installations of Kevin Tsujihara at Warner Bros., Richard Plepler at HBO and John Martin, who will soon move from finance chief of Time Warner to chief executive of Turner.

All came of age in the present company. As Plepler puts it, "We've all worked with Jeff a long time, and the fact that we can speak shorthand with him on a range of issues just makes everything easier."

It's already bearing fruit.

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Warner Bros. TV had never made a show for HBO in the almost 25 years that they have been part of the same company. Now, Warner Bros. has two shows in the works for HBO: one from "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof called "The Leftovers" that will premiere next year and a pilot from J.J. Abrams based on the movie "Westworld."

"It's a big deal," Tsujihara says of the Warner Bros. deals with HBO. "There is an opportunity to create a new culture for both the companies we are running and also Time Warner as a whole, and we take that very seriously."

Plepler agrees. "There's a very organic camaraderie between the three of us and a larger sense that we're all on this ship together," he says.

Enduring the turmoil of the last decade has fostered a tight bond among Tsujihara, Plepler and Martin.

"It makes it a lot easier when there is a level of experience you share and you've gone through a few wars together," Tsujihara says. "You can pick up the phone and say, 'I need a little help here.'"

It's a marked change from the previous leadership at those units, whose loyalties were often more to their respective fiefdoms than to Time Warner.

"This has been a story of creating a real and organic thing," Bewkes says. "Now we have a company that naturally belongs together."