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WARNER BROS CEO Panics Hollywood, Massive Changes Coming And They Cant Stop It!

by 09.16.2022

Hollywood is realizing they cannot stop, slow down, or manipulate the changes coming now for Warner Brothers Discovery. David Zaslav and his CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels will cut, fire, replace and dispose of any obstacle that gets in their way. Woke content, woke hiring practices are being eliminated– anything not adding to the bottom line is being eliminated. The only thing that could create problems for WBD now is their enormous $50 billion+ debt.

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In early August — two days after David Zaslav terminated his brief honeymoon with Hollywood by dumping the HBO Max film Batgirl — the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO was still sounding confident about the future of one of the studio’s most important properties.

“You look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman — these are brands that are known everywhere in the world,” Zaslav told investors. “We have done a reset. We’ve restructured the business where we are going to focus, where there is going to be a team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC.”

But the declaration of the DC reset was premature. Zaslav is continuing to meet with prospective candidates to lead the effort, but surprising to no one, he has not found a Kevin Feige clone. A negotiation with producer Dan Lin became public (possibly due to a meeting that was held outdoors in plain sight because of WBD consultant Alan Horn’s COVID-19 concerns) but then apparently fell apart over complications involving Lin’s production/nonprofit company Rideback.

Meanwhile, DC Films president Walter Hamada called his lawyer after watching Batgirl get binned and listening to Zaslav talk about the bright future under superior but unnamed leadership. Film studio co-chairman Michael De Luca talked him into staying until Black Adam is released in October, but his exit is being negotiated.

At this point, it’s hard to think of any strong candidate to run a DC silo. And there are several reasons to wonder why anyone with a decent career would want the job. By now, Zaslav has made enough moves to reveal that — despite that extensive goodwill tour — he is exactly the tough boss that former Discovery insiders described when the Warner Media-Discovery combination first made the news. And with CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels working to slash the staggering $50 billion-plus in debt, the company has content creators wondering publicly what happened to material that disappeared from the streamer without a word of warning, while insiders send out résumés as layoffs roll.

“Zaslav doesn’t know what he doesn’t know,” says one leading talent rep. “That’s scary. And you’re always going to be compared to Marvel. It’s unfair. By the time they were being judged, it was working. It’s the exact opposite at Warner. It’s rough all around. Who the fuck would want that job?”

The Marvel comparison looms large. While Feige has had the advantage of being what one industry source calls both the architect and contractor of the Marvel universe, the DC property has been through multiple iterations. Its fans are passionate — sometimes to the point of toxicity — and hardly unified. “DC is so fragmented,” says one talent rep. “J.J. [Abrams] had this one, Zack Snyder had that one, Todd Phillips had the other thing. And they’re all such huge egos.”

All these issues pale next to the biggest question hovering over any top job at WBD: How long will this gig last? The company is grappling with that heavy debt load and skeptical investors. One former Zaslav exec recently received a letter from a due-diligence firm on behalf of an unspecified client, asking for his evaluation of Zaslav’s leadership style, strategic plans and likelihood of success. That could suggest various possibilities — a potential acquirer digging around, a dissident shareholder sniffing for weakness, a hedge fund trying to place a bet. So much uncertainty.

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