The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape.
In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, we are about to witness the end of an era for another major studio — Fox — and the beginning of a whole new chapter in entertainment.
Just as AT&T’s purchase of TimeWarner cleared its last potential hurdle — a challenge by the Department of Justice — the consummation of Disney’s $71.3 billion landmark acquisition of most of Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment kingdom on March 20 ushers in massive changes in the way companies adapt to a direct-to-consumer universe.
The new leaders at both WarnerMedia and Disney will face enormous obstacles in trying to reconfigure their respective assets and reshape their businesses to compete in the new world order.
To say that this week’s events are bringing disruption and distraction to these huge enterprises would be a gross understatement.
As old industry lions like Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone recede further into the background, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey has emerged as a media mogul who is fast asserting his newfound power. Tsujihara’s forced departure is the second major management shake-up to hit WarnerMedia in a matter of weeks, following last month’s surprise so-longs to two vets, HBO chief Richard Plepler and Turner president David Levy, and Stankey’s hiring of former NBC chief Bob Greenblatt to steer HBO, pilot TNT and TBS through turbulent times for ad-supported cable channels and oversee the launch of WarnerMedia’s global streaming platform.
Meanwhile, Disney honcho Bob Iger and his new lieutenants, including former Fox television leaders Peter Rice and Dana Walden, will have their work cut out for them as they preside over a combined media company that will have undeniable — and some rivals say monopolistic — domination of the entertainment space.
The saddest byproduct of this industry tumult is the toll it will take on all the hardworking individuals who will lose their jobs as a result.