Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers is taking her West Wing experience to the West Coast.
Warner Bros., Hollywood’s largest studio, has named Myers head of corporate communications, replacing longtime studio executive Sue Fleishman. Myers, who served during President Clinton’s first term, will begin work Sept. 2.
As complex political issues such as digital piracy and business relations with China loom large in Hollywood, observers said that Myers’ political savvy would be a boon for Warner Bros. The studio also gains an executive with deep knowledge of how government works and the Rolodex of an operator who has long worked inside the Beltway.
“She will be able to pick up the phone and have conversations with incredibly well-placed entities that will help inform decision making,” said Democratic political consultant Chris Lehane, who served as an attorney in the Clinton White House and considers Myers a friend. “She will also be able to take information and translate it into a broader strategy for the company.”
At the same time, Myers’ posting could help politicians looking toward Hollywood for support. Should Hillary Clinton decide to run for president in 2016, she’d be able to count Myers as another in a long list of well-placed Hollywood friends.
Myers told The Times that she’d be willing to raise money for Clinton.
“If Hillary Clinton were to run for president, I would try to be helpful to her in the limited ways I could with another job at another business,” said Myers, 52. “It’s no secret that I am a Clinton person.”
Myers rose to national prominence serving as press secretary for President Clinton from January 1993 to December 1994. She was the first woman to hold the position. Before joining the Clinton presidential campaign in 1991, Myers served as press secretary for Dianne Feinstein in her 1990 bid for governor of California.
And she is no stranger to Los Angeles — or its political scene. She grew up in Valencia, and later served as an assistant press secretary to Mayor Tom Bradley in the 1980s.
Myers said she was approached by friends at Warner Bros. in late 2013 to discuss the company, and the “conversation evolved over time” after meeting with Warner Bros. Chief Executive and Chairman Kevin Tsujihara.
Instrumental in bringing Myers to Warner Bros. was the studio’s chief counsel, John Rogovin, according to two people familiar with the matter. Rogovin served on President Clinton’s transition team, and later as a top attorney at the Justice Department.
“I just got intrigued,” said Myers, who touted her experience as a consultant to the television show “The West Wing,” which was filmed on the Warner Bros. lot in the late 1990s and mid-2000s. “I’ve loved Washington — politics is obviously something I care a lot about, but I think it is an interesting time to make a change.”
Myers, whose Warner Bros. title will be executive vice president of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, will report to Tsujihara. He said in a statement that Myers would bring “a creative and strategic mind-set” to Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.
After departing the White House, Myers was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and political analyst, co-hosting the CNBC talk show “Equal Time.” Myers, who is married to journalist Todd Purdum, currently serves as managing director of Glover Park Group, a strategic communications firm. She is relocating to Los Angeles for the new job.
Myers would be a strong ally for Hillary Clinton in a town that has historically been supportive of both her and her husband’s political careers.
In 2005, Californians rallied behind Hillary Clinton in her campaign for New York Senate. Then-Warner Bros. President Alan Horn was among those who threw soirees for the candidate at his home, charging $1,000 a person. She enjoyed the same kind of support during her failed presidential bid in 2008.
Last year, fundraising for her potential 2016 run kicked into gear, and Hollywood appears to be playing a role. Independent group Ready for Hillary hosted a luncheon in December at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills that was attended by Clinton backer Brett Ratner, the director of the “Rush Hour” film franchise.
L.A.-based Democratic political strategist Donna Bojarsky, who works in the Hollywood political scene, said Myers’ network could be useful for fundraising.
“Whenever there is someone with an email address that a lot of people have, that brings more quote-unquote business to the table,” said Bojarsky, who worked alongside Myers in the Bradley administration.
Myers isn’t the first political operator to jump to Hollywood for a position in corporate communications.
Zenia Mucha, executive vice president and chief communications officer of the Walt Disney Co., previously served as director of communications and senior policy advisor to New York Gov. George Pataki. Kori Bernards, senior vice president of global communications for Universal Pictures, was previously communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and press secretary to Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo).
Time Warner already is home to a handful of high-profile executives with strong ties to the Clintons. In addition to Rogovin, Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications for Time Warner, was a former assistant counsel to President Clinton.
Fleishman worked for Warner Bros. for nine years before departing this week. She served during a highly visible, two-year corporate succession race that ended in January 2013 with the announcement that Tsujihara would succeed Barry Meyer as chief executive and chairman.
In the months after the tense race ended, Tsujihara’s two rivals for the job, Jeff Robinov and Bruce Rosenblum, departed the studio.
Myers said that she did not closely follow the succession battle. However, she said her experience in the White House trained her well for Hollywood public relations.
“You get your PhD in crisis when you work for Bill Clinton,” Myers said.
Times staff writers Joe Flint and Saba Hamedy contributed to this report.