Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes addresses succession plan at Warner Bros.
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Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes, who is finalizing a management succession plan at the media giant’s Warner Bros. film studio, said Friday that his decision would involve the input of the studio’s chairman and CEO, Barry Meyer, and its president and chief operating officer, Alan Horn.
‘This has been a very successful management team, and how we approach succession is a three-way decision between Barry, Alan and me,’ Bewkes said in a phone interview. ‘Under Barry and Alan’s leadership, there’s been a fantastic level of performance for a decade in theatrical movies, TV series and home video, so naturally their views on how we execute the business going forward for the next generation is very important.’
Bewkes was trying to slap down a report published Thursday that laid out various scenarios for Bewkes’ succession plan, which he said was still under discussion.
Last spring, with no clear succession plan in place, Bewkes gave Meyer and Horn each two-year contract extensions. At the time, it was expected that both executives would leave the studio when their contracts simultaneously expired at the end of 2011. There has been ongoing speculation at the studio and in Hollywood that Bewkes will give Meyer a second extension -- for one or two years -- until he decides who will get the chief executive job. Meyer has worked at Warner for nearly four decades and has been key in navigating the studio’s transition in the digital era and tough economic times.
It is widely believed inside the studio that Horn’s No. 2, motion picture group President Jeff Robinov, will become the studio’s top film executive. That would put him on managerial par with Warner Bros. television group President Bruce Rosenblum and home entertainment group chief Kevin Tsujihara, both of whom are vying for the CEO job.
‘The fact is we haven’t finished deciding when or what we want to do,’ Bewkes said. ‘There has been steady planning and discussion, and when we’re ready to do it, we will do it. We have the luxury of time and success.’
Meyer, 66, who oversees the TV and home entertainment groups, and Horn, 67, responsible for the movie side, have jointly presided over Warner Bros. for the last 13 years, reaping sizable rewards from such big-budget movie franchises as ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Batman’ and producing popular TV comedy series such as ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory.’
Bewkes has indicated in the past that when eventually replacing Meyer, he would prefer promoting from within the studio or Time Warner ranks.
In the interview, the Time Warner chief disputed the Thursday report that he had hired a headhunter to identify potential candidates for Meyer’s job.
‘We did not hire a headhunter and don’t plan to,’ Bewkes said. ‘We have a very strong bench of executives at Warner Bros.’
-- Claudia Eller