Ahead of the close of Discovery Inc.’s acquisition of Warner Bros., CEO David Zaslav on Thursday announced the company’s new leadership team. The new company will be called Warner Bros. Discovery.
“We are so excited to bring the heritage and legacies of these two great companies together by creating Warner Bros. Discovery, and I am proud that our new executive management team blends world-class leaders from both organizations as we take our first step toward one single cohesive, collaborative culture,” Zaslav said in a statement. “Today’s announcement combines a strong team of professional managers in a simpler organizational structure, with fewer layers, more accountability and a singular strategic focus as a global pure-play content company. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves with this team so that, together, we can write this next exciting chapter. These accomplished leaders will create a place where creatives, talent and all of our people in every corner of the globe can do their best work and inspire audiences everywhere with the magic, joy and wonder of world-class storytelling, news and sports.”
The announcement comes just one day after three top WarnerMedia executives exited the company: CEO Jason Kilar, studios chair Ann Sarnoff and HBO Max chief Andy Fossett. With them, went several other executives, including CFO Jennifer Biry; Chief Inclusion Officer Christy Haubergger, who also led corporate communications; Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jim Cummings; EVP and Chief Revenue Officer Tony Goncalves; EVP and General Counsel Jim Meza; and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom.
Meanwhile, several Discovery executives are moving into positions of greater authority under the new Zaslav regime.
Kathleen Finch becomes chairman and chief content officer, US Networks Group, overseeing the company’s more than 40 U.S. networks. Reporting into Finch are Nancy Daniels, chief content officer, Discovery Factual Networks, as well as Brett Weitz, general manager, TBS, TNT and truTV, and Tom Ascheim, president, Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics. Finch also will retain oversight for the Discovery Lifestyle Networks, which includes HGTV, Food Network and TLC, home of the popular 90 Day Fiancé franchise, which includes many spinoffs.
JB Perrette, formerly president and CEO, Discovery Streaming and International, becomes CEO and president, Warner Bros. Discovery Global Streaming and Interactive Entertainment, with responsibility for HBO Max and Discovery Plus, as well as all direct-to-consumer and gaming. David Haddad, president, Warner Bros. Games, reports to Perrette.
Gerhard Zeiler will serve as president, international, with responsibility for the company’s businesses across more than 200-plus countries and territories. Zeiler held the same role for WarnerMedia, and now adds responsibility for Discovery’s international footprint. With respect to direct-to-consumer and international content distribution strategy, Zeiler and his team will have a dotted line to Perrette.
Staying in place on the WarnerMedia side are many of the executives who oversee scripted content, an area that Discovery previously did not emphasize. Those include Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max; Channing Dungey, chairman, Warner Bros. Television Group; Toby Emmerich, chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, with responsibility for Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, DC-based films and Warner Bros. Feature Animation; and newly hired Chris Licht, chairman and CEO of CNN Global, replacing Jeff Zucker in that role.
Executives remaining in place from Discovery include Adria Alpert Romm as chief people and culture officer; Lori Locke as chief accounting officer, reporting to CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels; and Savalle Sims as general counsel. Romm is a longtime close aide to Zaslav who has intended to retire twice, reports Deadline, but keeps staying on to lend a hand as the company grows ever bigger.
Sims reports to Bruce Campbell, who is moving up to the new role of chief revenue and strategy officer, overseeing U.S. advertising sales, distribution revenue and content licensing, global corporate development and strategy, global streaming platform agreements and the company’s legal affairs. Campbell previously served as Discovery’s chief development, distribution and legal officer.
David Leavy will be the company’s chief corporate affairs officer, overseeing corporate relations, global government relations and public policy, corporate marketing, global communications, corporate research, events and social responsibility.
Warner Bros. Discovery will name a chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer later, with the role reporting jointly to the CEO, and the chief people and culture officer. The company is also actively searching to fill the role of chair and CEO for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, reporting to the CEO. Lenny Daniels, president, Turner Sports and Patrick Crumb, president, regional sports networks, will report into this position.
Still unknown is the fate of Mike Darnell, who currently oversees unscripted television for WarnerMedia. Darnell made his name at Fox, where he oversaw the development of such reality hits as American Idol, Joe Millionaire, The Simple Life and many more.