By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The problem at Warner Bros. Pictures is that its moviemaking system prizes loyalty and patience and off-the-balance-sheet financing more than originality or creativity. (Which is why I pity those pathetic Time Warner shareholders.) Even successful execs who don’t observe the strictly enforced chain of command are quickly axed. “This is a company that wants to look like it’s run by a bunch of people who have a creative vision,” an insider tells me. “But the truth of the matter is that Jeff will get his promotion because he’s in complete submission to quarterly reports and bottom line. Decisions get made on the basis of financial projections without taking into account the actual content. They look at columns of numbers. Nobody ever says, ‘Does anyone want to see this movie?’ ”
Robinov joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 1997 from ICM as senior veep for production, then moved up to exec veep for production in November 2000, and landed as president of production in July 2002. When Robinov’s predecessor, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, was fired, no one could quite believe that Robinov was given that job because of his personality, or lack thereof. People frequently comment how Robinov has little visible charm and lacks the polish to be a corporate player.
“Alan Horn is a gentleman,” a source tells me, “and you simply can’t find someone who is more the polar opposite in terms of temperament, demeanor and presentability than Jeff Robinov.”
Three years ago, Robinov had a successful slate of pics and expected to move atop Warner Bros. Pictures. But his movies have been failing since 2006, and that’s making him increasingly tense and uncommunicative and moody. He also perspires profusely, running his wet hands along his shaved dome when he gets nervous. There’s ample reason for his flop sweat: His boss Horn hates reading bad press about the studio. Meanwhile, Robinov himself is terrified of reporters and clumsy in dealing with them.
It was always going to be difficult, anyway, to promote Robinov because of his friction with president of domestic marketing Dawn Taubin, who has long had Horn’s ear and refuses to report to Robinov. But the logjam has taken its toll on widely liked and respected exec veep Kevin McCormick, who’s itching to take over Robinov’s job.
It’s not that there’s pressure from within to promote Robinov so much as there’s pressure coming from the top of Warner Bros. People forget that Horn’s job is to be president/COO to Barry Meyer’s chairman/CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., and not just to run Warner Pictures, but to run Warner Bros. as a whole and help oversee the studio and movies and TV and DVDs and new media and theme parks. But Horn remains too film-centric in Meyer’s view. “Alan had to be willing to shift his focus and broaden it and at the same time decentralize the movie side,” a source says. “Until he did that, Jeff could never move up to that larger role.”
So Robinov will be upped. Unless something happens to derail it. I wonder what that could be . . .
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