In a move that appears to send a signal about the direction of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Time Warner Inc. has named its digital guru, Kevin Tsujihara, as the new chief executive of WBE, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes’ selection of Tsujihara, currently president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, was something of a surprise,” the story reports. “Bewkes on Monday passed over two seasoned executives who have been responsible for the Burbank studio’s marquee businesses: Bruce Rosenblum, who is in charge of television production, and Jeff Robinov, who is head of Warner Bros.’ prestigious movie studio.”
The three executives have been jockeying for the position for two-and-a-half years, the report notes, with Tsujihara’s low-key personality apparently figuring into the decision.
“Bewkes was impressed not only by Tsujihara’s management style but how he handled himself in the tumultuous process, according to company insiders,” the story notes. “It is unclear whether Rosenblum, who is chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, will remain at Warner Bros. beyond August.”
The article adds: “Career uncertainty also surrounds Robinov, a former talent agent who has spent years nurturing relationships with top Hollywood directors, including Chris Nolan (‘The Dark Knight’), Ben Affleck (‘Argo’) and Todd Phillips (‘The Hangover’). However, Robinov has had a better working relationship with Tsujihara than with Rosenblum. Robinov has several years remaining on his employment contract.”
Tsujihara will replace Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman Barry Meyer, who made the selection along with Bewkes. Meyer, who retires at the end of this year, has run the movie and TV studio for the past 14 years.
“The fact that Tsujihara has been running digital distribution, home entertainment, video games and leading the studio’s anti-piracy efforts strengthened his candidacy,” the story notes. “Hollywood has been rocked by a digital revolution that has upset the economic models that have long underpinned the industry. Tsujihara has been a strong proponent of ultra-violet technology and he championed the studio’s acquisition of Flixster as well as making the studio’s content available on a variety of platforms, including iTunes and Xbox.”