In an unusual move, Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert A. Daly announced Wednesday that he will share his corporate titles with division President Terry Semel to better reflect the partnership and close relationship the two men have enjoyed for more than a decade.
The president’s title will no longer be used at the Burbank-based company, the studio subsidiary of media and entertainment giant Time Warner Inc. But Daly said he is promoting longtime television executive Barry M. Meyer to chief operating officer.
According to published reports, Semel appeared restless last year and weighed an offer to bid for MGM with financier and friend Ronald Perelman. But Semel ultimately signed a long-term agreement in late summer, extending his contract by more than four years.
Daly noted that the moves were made at his own initiative, and not as part of a transition. As often noted, the highly successful Warner operations have enjoyed considerable autonomy before and after the 1989 merger with Time Inc.
Daly’s gesture was interpreted as unusually gracious by Hollywood standards, but characteristically shrewd and reflective of his own job security. In the past, the longtime Warner chief has turned down offers to return to New York to run a network or to take a corporate job at Time Warner.
In an interview, Daly, 57, insisted again that he is not about to leave Warner Bros. “I love coming to work every day, and what makes it that way for me is having Terry here,” he said.
Daly became the Warner studio chairman on Jan. 1, 1981, following a 25-year career at CBS. Daly attributed Wednesday’s promotions in part to his network experience. He felt that the late CBS Chairman William S. Paley erred by inadequately rewarding former CBS President Frank Stanton.
Semel, 51, has spent most of his career at Warner Bros., except for four years at CBS and Walt Disney Co. in the early 1970s. An accountant by training, he has served as the studio’s chief operating officer since 1978.
Meyer, 50, is an attorney who worked for ABC-TV before joining Warner Bros. Television in 1971. He was named executive vice president of Warner Bros. Inc. in 1984.