- NEW YORK
Jason Kilar, a former Amazon SVP who became CEO of WarnerMedia a little more than three months ago, has made some seismic changes in the company’s executive suite. Robert Greenblatt is out after just over a year as the chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment. Also exiting are Kevin Reilly, WarnerMedia’s chief content officer, and Keith Cocozza, EVP of marketing and communications.
In a note to WarnerMedia employees informing them of this and several other key moves, Kilar wrote, “I want to thank Bob and Kevin for getting us to this point with the integration of HBO and the legacy Turner Networks and launch of HBO Max. It has been such an impressive sequence of events, and we are so much better for it. I also owe a tremendous amount of gratitude and thanks to Keith, for not only helping me navigate these last few months at the company--and with the media--but more importantly for his 19 years at the company through its evolution. I have never met a kinder, more collaborative executive in my career. I can’t wait to see how each of these leaders change the world in the years to come.”
With the departure of Greenblatt and Reilly, taking on more responsibilities are Ann Sarnoff and Andy Forssell.
Sarnoff, Warner Bros. chair and CEO, will lead the newly created Studios and Networks Group, combining original production (content studios) and programming capabilities currently spread across Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS and TruTV. This group will oversee all WarnerMedia television series and motion picture development, production and programming, partnering with Forssell to ensure HBO Max is successful globally. Forssell, general manager of HBO Max, will be leading a newly created HBO Max operating business unit and report to Kilar. Forssel and his team will be responsible for the product, marketing, consumer engagement and global rollout of HBO Max.
Casey Bloys, president HBO Programming, will also be taking on original content responsibilities for HBO Max and the domestic linear networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Bloys will report to Sarnoff.
Gerhard Zeiler, currently chief revenue officer, will lead a newly integrated international group comprised of the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Networks. This group will be responsible for local execution of all WarnerMedia linear businesses, commercial activities, and regional programming for HBO Max.
Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter and a key leader of HBO Max, will lead the new commercial unit that combines the U.S. advertising sales and distribution groups with home entertainment and content licensing so that all commercial activities are strategically managed across internal and external customers.
Christy Haubegger, chief enterprise inclusion officer, will also oversee the global marketing and communications team including branding and corporate social responsibility, as all company efforts around equity and inclusion are brought together.
Elements of continuity but more layoffs in offing
With all the changes, there is still some continuity in the hierarchy. The Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group continues to be led by chairman Toby Emmerich. Warner Bros. Television Studios group continues to be led by chairman Peter Roth. Warner Bros. Interactive remains part of the Studios and Networks group, along with the Global Brands and Franchises team including DC led by Pam Lifford, and the Kids, Young Adults and Classics business led by Tom Ascheim, all focused on engaging fans with the company’s brands and franchises through games and other interactive experiences.
Jeff Zucker continues as chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports. CFO Pascal Desroches, CTO Rich Tom (CTO), chief human resources officer Jim Cummings, EVP, strategy and corporate development Priya Dogra and EVP, general counsel Jim Meza continue to report to Kilar.
Still, there will be more layoffs to come. Kilar’s memo to staffers also acknowledged that in order to best serve customers, “we will be reducing the size of our teams, our layers, and our overall workforce. These reductions are not in any way a reflection of the quality of the people impacted nor their work,” shared Kilar who explained it is instead a function of changes he believes are “necessary for WarnerMedia and our collective ability to best serve customers. This is the part that is painful and very hard. It is difficult to find the appropriate words here to say other than that I am very sorry. These are talented, admired leaders and beloved colleagues.”
Kilar’s memo concluded, “I realize this is a lot to take in. And none of us should expect the above changes to be easy. That said, we are successfully navigating a pandemic together and I know that, however challenging the above changes may be, we will also successfully navigate them as well. As each of you take some time to digest the above, I hope that you become more and more energized by how, together, we are boldly leaning into the future and this historic opportunity that is right in front of us. It is an honor to be on this team with each of you.”