May 5, 2008

Destined To Die

You know, people get all over me when I say that Time Warner is THE MOST POORLY RAN ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY IN THE WORLD because, at times, I seem to beat the notion into their heads.

While that may be true and the fact that there are a lot of companies with inept executives, no company publicly shows its ineptness more than Time Warner. And no one represents the ineptitude of Time Warner more than its CEO, Jeff Bewkes, a man who is on record of stating that synergy (cooperation between separate units within the same company) is bullscat. Every major decision in the past four years at Time Warner has been largely brainstormed by him and his collective yesmen, from the ouster of Richard Parsons as CEO to the now ill-fated merger of The WB with UPN to the change of direction at Cartoon Network to the downsizing of animation at the company to the combination of "similar" units like Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema which are very similar companies not really.

Recent announcements of the "resignation" of the head of Warner Bros. Animation and the impending sales of Time Warner Cable, a bulk of AOL, and maybe Time, Inc. itself prove that the current management of Time Warner is not only inept, but they're headed for self-destruction.

The fact that Warner Bros. Animation is no longer its own entity is worrisome to say the least. It's theoretically been halved and seen more as a technique rather than a medium. The television side is now essentially a part of Warner Bros. Television and the theatrical side is now a part of Warner Bros. Pictures. If I had my way, this is what I would have done, especially if costcutting and unit unification is what they wanted in the first place (something they've actually done as of late with New Line Cinema, which used to be a separate unit but now a "prestige" brand of Warner Bros. Pictures), and it actually makes sense.

An animation unit that includes the major animation studios of Time Warner, the animation library, a unit responsible for potential content creation, and outlets to broadcast the shows (especially since Cartoon Network is at least pretending to give a damn about animation these days) would be welcome, but alas, sense left the company the moment AOL flashed them a few bucks for a slight majority stake in the company.

Instead, the head of WB Animation was essentially tossed aside, though the writings on the wall was evident when The CW sold the Kids' WB block timeslot to 4Kids Entertainment and cancelled all WB-made shows from the block in one fell swoop. The current CEO of Time Warner has always been an opponent of synergy, so WB Animation and Cartoon Network has been separate in nearly everything and barely worked together. Now, Looney Tunes are nowhere to be seen in a regular form on television in the US for more than 30 minutes a day.

And yes, the new de-facto head of WB Animation is Peter Roth, a former programming head of Saturday morning of ABC just as Michael Eisner (yeah, that Michael Eisner) left. He got the job only to go ahead, as most people in Saturday morning programming did. And since it's already established that animation is a secondary (or maybe even tertiary) part of Mr. Roth's agenda, the only thing I expect will happen is even less thought about it. And I didn't think that was even possible.

It just seems like they got rid of Ms. Judson because they severely limited her position. Aside from Brave and the Bold, there aren't real projects are coming to television in the first place from Warner Bros. Animation. Everything's mostly direct to video. T-Works (which had since been rebranded as the second coming of Kids' WB) is only using library stuff for the most part. Artists had already been canned. Shows have already been outsourced (remember, Johnny Test used to be made by and at WBA). There is no direction at Warner Bros. Animation, and sadly, there is literally no more Warner Bros. Animation.

Soon, there will be no more Time Warner Cable. Time Warner is planning to sell their majority stake in the nation's largest cable provider, who also provides broadband access. The unit's still profitable, but Bewkes feels that it's an awkward unit to hold on to, particularly as a content creator. Didn't hurt Levin, Parsons, and Turner when they were running the company. Theoretically, the selling of Time Warner Cable is the equivalent of those people that feel the need to get rid of a normally healthy limb.

The fact that they're even considering selling Time, Inc. is also self-destructive. I know that print media isn't on everybody's must-read list anymore, but it's still relevant to the rest of the country that isn't hooked on computers. It frustrates me to no end that media companies believe that everybody is connected to a broadband-capable computer. I'm still running on a 56K modem, and I just got that in 2006 (I don't long for the days I was on a 1GB 120 MHz Packard Bell POS with a 28K modem like I was for almost a decade). Also, without the Time brands (including Sports Illustrated, Money, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, and Life), there's no need to call the company Time Warner. It'd be . . . Warner.

Essentially, Warner Communications would be reborn with HBO, Turner Entertainment, half of the CW, a chunk of AOL (they're still selling a bulk of that company to another group), and numerous broadband channels, including the recently reintroduced broadband versions of The WB and Kids' WB and the Turner nets (Jetstream, CN Video, Super Deluxe, and Gametap). The new Warner Bros. Media Company would be born and be less than half the company it used to be almost two decades ago (remember, the company sold off the music and book publishing units a long time ago). Bewkes will be responsible for the destruction of a once-venerable and vibrant entertainment company, but, like all recent leaders, instead of being punished, he'll be rewarded for his ineptitude.

I'm a fan of regime change, and it's time for Bewkes to go. He was the one who put Jamie Kellner in charge of Time Warner when he led the television unit of Time Warner. Bewkes moved up, creeping into the management ladder until everybody that was above him was gone. Bewkes is more about the short-range instead of seeing what the company will look like years, decades from now. He's looking for a legacy, but he doesn't have a creative bone in his body. He's a destructive force. Look at what he has done to Warner Bros. Animation and New Line Cinema. Look at what he's doing to Warner Bros. Pictures.

Lesser men would have been fired by now.


Patrick said...

Jeff...look at this man:

tell me what you see, and ill tell you why you continue to lose the battle.

Jeff Harris said...

All I see is Jeff Bewkes with Time and Warner on his shoulders. What are you seeing that I'm not?

Oh! Is this a race thing? Race is irrelevant. Look at Oprah, look at Russell Simmons and Bob Johnson. Look at Will Smith. Look at Richard Parsons (he's still the Chairman of the Board at Time Warner). Look at Quincy Jones, Pharrell Williams, Jay Z, and Sean Combs. Look at the folks at Radio One.

Look at Barack Obama.

Race is redundant, except to idiots that dwell on it, if that's what you're talking about.

You still make me laugh, man.

"Lose the battle?" I'm not fighting anybody. I'm just telling the truth.

And I won't delete comments or censor people unlike some, lesser individuals.

Patrick said...

Oh jeff, you misunderstand me. It not about race.

You see that shit faced grin Jeff? Yes hes a wasp, and yes jeff he has more power than you or I...

But where you erronicsly believe it was a race issue, i see him as nothing more than he has a sexual hangup. This makes him a pychopath. Until he gets rid of this hang up... you can forget of any changes coming to Warner ButtBusters. One cannot deal with crazies because they will infect your mind and your memes...your life and your times...

You just answered your own question...i aint tell you where...

Jeff Harris said...

You know, it's always about sex with you, man. I'm just not seeing it.

He has the company on his shoulders, and he's not afraid to brush off his right shoulder. But his kind comes and goes (see Kellner, Levin, Pittman, Samples, Higgins, et. al.). Bewkes will be out of power by this time in 2010, before then if TWX dips below $10 a share.

I think that's one of the few things we're eye-to-eye on. Dealing with crazies could make you one if you're not careful.

Sean DL said...

Te CW is on life Support,0,1543998.story

I think UPN had better schedules....Sad.