Barbara S. Brogliatti, for a time perhaps the most influential publicity executive in Hollywood, died Sunday morning in her Napa Valley, Calif., home after a long battle with cancer. She was 69.
Brogliatti, who served as the executive VP and chief corporate communications officer at Warner Bros., had cancer that spread to the brain.
She was known as a fierce champion of her employers, a loyal ally and a formidable opponent with a take-no-prisoners style. Moreover, her attention to what else was happening around the industry allowed her to play a role in advising others on public-relations hires, which made her a true power broker and meant that winding up on her bad side could have career consequences.
At Warner Bros., where she worked for 18 years, Brogliatti spearheaded the major studios’ collective PR efforts through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in labor negotiations with the talent guilds. When the industry banded together to stage a benefit concert, “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, she took the lead in coordinating the promotional campaign.
Brogliatti left Warner Bros. in 2005, after which she consulted, engaged in philanthropic endeavors and bought property in the Napa Valley, where she had recently moved to enjoy her retirement. When she left the studio, then-Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Barry Meyer called her “truly without peer.” For her part, Brogliatti quipped that after all her years working in communications, “I am leaving the whine for the wine.”
Brogliatti came to Warner Bros. in October 1990 via its acquisition a year earlier of Lorimar Telepictures. She briefly left the company to start her own firm but was wooed back by the studio’s then TV chief, Leslie Moonves. (Like Brogliatti, Moonves came from Lorimar, but soon expanded his mandate to include Warner Bros. Television.)
Her high-profile bosses included Moonves, Warner Bros. CEOs Bob Daly and Terry Semel, and producer Norman Lear. She worked for Lear’s Embassy Communications/TAT/Tandem overseeing publicity and advertising. After heading TV publicity for the combined Warner Bros./Lorimar, she was promoted to oversee all publicity for the studio in 1997 under Daly and Semel.
Born and raised in San Fernando Valley, Brogliatti graduated from UCLA in 1968 with a degree in social sciences for elementary education. She remained a large supporter of athletic teams at UCLA, where she had mentored Kareem Abdul-Jabbar while he was an undergraduate.
She began her career as a publicist at CBS almost immediately after college. Through the years she oversaw campaigns for such series as “All in the Family,” “Dallas,” “ER” and “Friends” – in the latter case, serving as the studio’s spokeswoman during contentious contract negotiations between Warner Bros. and the stars. Brogliatti also oversaw the Warner Bros. PR side of its hardball war with Paramount when the competing WB and UPN networks were introduced in the 1990s. (UPN’s top exec, Lucie Salhany, wore a pin of a frog with a stake through it, a not-so-subtle dig at the WB’s animated mascot.)
In fact, Brogliatti rather notoriously sought out such combative roles. In addition to the AMPTP, which she worked with during the 100-day Writers Guild strike that ended in February 2008, that included serving as chief strategist for the coalition that successfully lobbied to eliminate the financial interest and syndication rules, which cleared the way for networks to own the lion’s share of the programs they broadcast.
Brogliatti is survived by her husband, Ray. A celebration of her life will be held in the fall.
The AMPTP said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Barbara Brogliatti. Barbara was a uniquely gifted communicator who became a trusted leader and public relations adviser for the AMPTP in labor matters. She was asked on many occasions to take charge of the industry’s communications in strike or near-strike situations, in large part because of her ability to forge a consensus among the studios on a communications strategy. There is no doubt that she was one of the best at what she did. We will miss her greatly and offer our heartfelt condolences to her husband, Ray.”