A three-way battle for power at Warner Bros., meant to inspire a “collegial competition” among three strong execs aspiring to run the media giant, has instead led to “distrust and disharmony,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
CEO Jeff Bewkes set the competition in motion two years ago among Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum, Motion Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov and Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara, declaring, “These three will work as a unit,” the piece notes.
“But the effort has inspired distrust and disharmony inside Warner Bros., the studio known for Batman, Bugs Bunny and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ as well as for its decades of management stability,” the Times reports.
“The three competing candidates … do not work as a unit. They rarely meet as a trio or get involved in one another’s businesses, according to several people associated with the studio who were not authorized to speak publicly.
“And although Bewkes said anyone jockeying or politicking for the job of Warner Bros.’ chairman would ‘eliminate themselves’ as contenders, the three men have been maneuvering for position while their subordinates quietly advertise their bosses’ qualities and rivals’ shortcomings.”
The report indicates the power struggle has impacted morale on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif. “Some insiders describe an atmosphere in which executives are hesitant to extend contracts, staffers are afraid to cross department lines for fear of ‘taking sides’ and potential partners are wary of signing long-term deals without knowing who will be in charge,” the story reports.
Said one Warner Bros. executive cited in the story: "People are very preoccupied with the issue of succession, and it creates an undercurrent of tension and awkwardness. It’s like being a kid wondering if your parents are about to break up."
The piece notes: “The runoff officially launched in September 2010 when Warner’s professorial chairman, Barry Meyer, agreed to postpone his planned retirement until the end of 2013 — after 42 years at the company and 14 in the top job.”
Bewkes and each of the three candidates for the job declined to be interviewed for the piece, the Times notes. A decision on the job is expected early next year.