WB Shakeup: Rosenblum Exiting, Roth, Hunegs, Schlesinger to Rise

Longtime TV group leader's departure was expected after he lost CEO job to Kevin Tsujihara

Bruce Rosenblum

Warner Bros.’ television operations are in for a major management overhaul as longtime TV group topper Bruce Rosenblum is poised to exit the studio he has called home for more than 20 years.

The news of Rosenblum’s departure had been expected for months, even since he was passed over for the top CEO job on the Warners lot, which went to former homvid/digital chief Kevin Tsujihara.

In the exec overhaul to come, Rosenblum deputy Craig Hunegs, exec veep of the TV Group and a biz affairs vet, is expected to take on many of the duties previously handled by his boss. Longtime Warner Bros. TV prexy Peter Roth, the creative steward of the studio’s prosperous primetime production unit, is now expected to report directly to Tsujihara, as is longtime WB TV International chief Jeffrey Schlesinger.

News of the shakeup to come on the Burbank lot was reported Saturday night by Deadline. Rosenblum declined comment Saturday night. In a statement Sunday, WB would only say that it does not “comment on rumors, speculation or personnel matters.”

Rosenblum by many accounts had let friends and colleagues know that he was planning to move on after the end of the all-important pilot selling season, which culminates during the next week with the broadcast network upfront presentations in Gotham, which kick off Monday with NBC and Fox. Rosenblum had been skedded to attend some of this week’s upfront events but sources said it was unclear if he would still make the trip.

Many on the lot knew that Rosenblum’s departure was a matter of time. It’s a testament to their respect for the exec that rumors and speculation about the future were kept to a minimum. But it’s understood that top execs have quietly been anxious for some time given the sense of limbo for the TV wing after Tsujihara got the nod in late January. He took the CEO baton from Barry Meyer on March 1.

Although Roth, Hunegs and Schlesinger are highly regarded studio vets, the lack of a clear successor raises big questions for the management of the studio’s biggest profit-generating divisions. Tsujihara has less experience in TV than in other areas of WB operations. Having multiple direct reports could well be overwhelming as he’s not even six months into his tenure as CEO. In this scenario, Tsujihara’s predecessor, Barry Meyer, is likely to play an even more vital role. Meyer remains chairman of the studio through year’s end.

Rosenblum came to the Burbank lot in 1989 as part of the studio’s acquisition of Lorimar Telepictures. At present he also serves as chairman-CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Rosenblum was one of the trio of WB execs who vied to succeed Meyer during a nearly three-year bakeoff process that led to much turmoil on the usually tranquil WB lot. He had been seen as the frontrunner for the CEO job, but in the end Time Warner topper Jeff Bewkes decided that Tsujihara’s skill set in the digital realm was a better fit to lead the studio into its next century. It’s also no secret that Tsujihara had a stronger overall relationship with Bewkes.

Friends and colleagues have quietly speculated in recent weeks that Rosenblum would seek a new exec post at a media company or try an entrepreneurial venture. He’s not seen as the type to set up a production pact, as so many former TV honchos have done.