When Discovery CEO David Jaslow and a few colleagues visited AT&T’s Dallas headquarters in May 2021 to finalize the mega-merger that would create Warner Bros. Discovery, some in the building noticed the different vibes that Jasla’s team brought to the desk. While AT&T executives often operated quietly outside their modern glass offices, the Discovery team was lurking in an office, with food and phones constantly ringing at a table.
“It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves, family-style culture” encountering a more formal corporate environment, an insider recalled. This will help explain why the newly released Warner Bros. Discovery Arc chart before the April 8 deal closed top entertainment executives.
Now the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery has selected top executives from Jaslow Discovery, including his lieutenants, but four WarnerMedia executives have joined, three of whom are at the forefront of the combined entertainment assets: HCO and HBO Max President Casey Blaise, TV Warner Brothers and Warner Brothers Chairman Toby Emmerich.
At Warnermedia, executives were stacked up, reporting to Ann Sarnaff, who reported to Jason Killer, who complained to AT&T boss John Stanky. They will now report directly to the CEO.
The new WB Discovery system elevates creative executives who were previously stacked, in stark contrast to the new structure that Disney CEO Bob Sobeck created at his company in 2020. Although top film and television executives continued to report to Chapek, responsibilities were transferred to a new division headed by Kareem Daniel, one of his top representatives in revenue. That move caused friction internally, and Daniel and his team had a greater impact in determining where specific content should live.
In a note sent to staff in January, Chabeck sought to assuage those concerns, telling staff that he had “promised to hold a new regular monthly meeting with our senior creative leaders to discuss the opportunities we face as a storytelling company.” Disney is not alone. Paramount and NBC Universal have put the best executives between their CEOs and their TV and movie leaders.
At WB Discovery, leaving the green light of film and television projects to them, the news seems to be that Jaslow himself will play a pivotal role and provide direct access to the best creative executives. Jaslov praised the new structure when the board released it, saying it was “a unique strategic focus as a low-stakes, high-accountability and global pure-game content company”. One source outlines a goal such as improving creative executives, avoiding pitfalls and ensuring quick decision making.
After all, Jaslav has a reputation for being decision-centered, but has a less formal and more collaborative approach, which he often finds himself calling executives. “He wants to get someone who knows how to do it,” shares a senior executive who worked with Jasla. “For example, he wants to call you and get an answer.” So, the best talents who talk to Bloys, Dungey and Emmerich can be trusted to keep that straight line upwards.
Jaslow has confirmed that Hollywood has been telegraphing its commitment to eating, sleeping and breathing since the deal was announced. On May 17, 2021, in the first press release announcing the merger, the new company stated that “we will focus on storytelling, journalism and creativity in everything we do”.
He will return to town halls with Discovery and WarnerMedia staff, and he will deliver revenue calls, an important part of Warner Bros.’s creative work. “Warner Bros. has been one of the best creative companies in the world, a place where talented people want to come, where they are nurtured and supported. That’s the history of Warner Bros. “
Jaslow later announced that he would be relocating to Los Angeles to play a role on the ground (his permanent LA home was planned to be the Beverly Hills home owned by the late filmmaker Robert Evans for $ 16 million prior to the WarnerMedia deal with WarnerMedia’s and his “number one” team. Insisted on “creating relationships.”
Joining Zaslav at LA is Lieutenant Lieutenant JB Ferrett, CEO and Chairman of Warner Bros. Discovery Global Streaming and Interactive Entertainment, worldwide overseeing HBO Max and Discovery +.
Since the end of the deal, Jaslow has been holding informal meetings and greetings in New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Los Angeles. A source who attended one of Zaslav’s meetings with CNN employees said that he believes CNN has an opportunity to expand globally and that he sees the brand’s reputation as an asset rather than an asset to increase margins.
One key Discovery content veteran who joins the team is Kathleen Finch, who oversees the food network and HGTV. He now oversees all linear channels outside of HBO and CNN, including the Turner channels TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network.
Most business executives have been Jasla’s trusted lieutenants for years. CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, Chief Public and Cultural Officer Adria Alpert Romm, Chief Accounting Officer Lori Locke and General Adviser Savalle Sims will all serve in the same roles in the new company. Bruce Campbell, who led the business development and distribution for Discovery, will become the Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer overseeing all of the company’s revenue from advertising to distribution.
And WarnerMedia International President Gerhard Zeiler will assume international responsibilities from Beret. (After the German Wheatenfels, the Austrian jailer becomes the second native speaker in the top management set.)
But for all the speeches of the executives named in the new leadership committee, Jaslov issued two explicit positions. The first is a Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Zaslav Report. Although every major entertainment company has one person in that role, not all of them report directly to the CEO. The highlight of WB Discovery’s work is that it will be a priority for the company, following Florida’s “Say No K” bill and the employee backlash faced by Disney through Netflix. Response to Dave Chappell’s Stand-Up Special in 2021.
Chair and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports. It oversees NBA, MLB, NHL and March Madness coverage in the US and Olympic coverage in Europe, a job that immediately pushes anyone to the top church in the sports world. Lenny Daniels and Patrick Crump, who oversee Turner Sports and Turner’s regional sports networks, respectively, will complain to the new manager.
Jaslow considers Dick Ebersol, former chairman of NBC Sports, a close friend and mentor, going back to the days when they worked together at NBC, and the executive who helped Discovery gain Olympic rights to Eurosport for its French network, is sure to weigh in. Who should get the best job when the company’s games and other stories come out.
The story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter’s April 13 issue. Click here to subscribe.