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Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun.

Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for the industry in general and Warner Bros. in particular.

“Despite the many changes that have occurred across the industry and here at the company, your focus and commitment to excellence have kept us on track to realize our ambitious goals,” Sarnoff wrote in a memo to Warner Bros.’ 8,000 employees worldwide.

“This is an exciting—and challenging—time in the entertainment industry, and we need to keep looking at new business models, new competitors, new content platforms and formats—and finding new opportunities,” Sarnoff wrote. “With our talent, expertise and unmatched IP, we’re in a great position to capitalize on them.

Sarnoff has set a town hall meeting for studio employees on Sept. 4.

Sarnoff moves into the CEO suite vacated in March by Kevin Tsujihara, who was forced to resign amid allegations he used his role as studio chief to land acting jobs for a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair. Tsujihara denies playing a direct role in casting matters involving the woman. The unexpected segue at the top of Warner Bros. also coincided with AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, Warner Bros. former parent company

Sarnoff was previously president of BBC Worldwide Americas.

Here is Sarnoff’s full memo:

Dear Colleagues:

I’ve been looking forward to saying that for two months…

Today is my first day at Warner Bros., and I wanted to let you know how proud I am to be joining the company and all of you. Warner Bros. has been the gold standard in entertainment for almost 100 years, and with the efforts of our global team, I believe we can continue that streak for another 100. 

I’ve had the chance to meet with the senior management team, and I’m excited to help build on the company’s legacy of creativity and innovation. This is an exciting—and challenging—time in the entertainment industry, and we need to keep looking at new business models, new competitors, new content platforms and formats—and finding new opportunities.  With our talent, expertise and unmatched IP, we’re in a great position to capitalize on them.

I’d like to acknowledge that despite the many changes that have occurred across the industry and here at the company, your focus and commitment to excellence have kept us on track to realize our ambitious goals. I cannot thank you enough for your ongoing contributions to Warner Bros.’ success. Every interaction I’ve had has confirmed my belief that a company’s people make the culture, and Warner Bros.’ culture of respect, integrity, creativity and inclusion is a direct result of the passion in each of you.

Finally, I want to thank Toby Emmerich, Peter Roth and Kim Williams for stepping in and serving as the interim CEO team. They’ve done a masterful job, and I will continue to rely on them in the days ahead.

I look forward to hearing from you and to sharing a little more of my story. As a first step, I’ll be hosting a Town Hall on Wednesday, September 4. You’ll be receiving more information on that later today.

In the meantime, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and get busy. Quoting Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”— “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I hope to see you all on the 4th.

Best regards,

Ann

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