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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Rob Reiner on Warners exec succession plan: 'What a boneheaded move'

Alan_horn Rob Reiner has got to be enjoying life. His new film, "Flipped," which opened today in selected cities, has earned the director some of his best reviews in years, with my colleague Betsy Sharkey saying in her review today that the film "is the kind of small, special movie that wraps you up in so much warmth, humor and humanity that it will leave you wishing that stories like this weren't so rare." Reiner also has to be celebrating the news that California's Proposition 8 has been overturned. It's a huge victory for Reiner, who was a key figure in the legal battle against the anti-gay marriage bill through his American Foundation for Equal Rights. (The Hollywood Reporter has an excellent piece about how Reiner became the anti-Prop 8 kingpin.)

The only dark cloud for Reiner is the impending departure of Warners studio president Alan Horn, who has been one of Reiner's closest friends for years and one of the main reasons why Reiner has made four straight films at Warner Bros. Even though the studio has enjoyed unprecedented success under Horn's leadership, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes dropped a bombshell last year, saying he was only re-upping Horn and studio chairman Barry Meyer for two more years. Normally, when you make a studio untold hundreds of millions of dollars, you get to stay on almost as long as you want, especially if you're only in your mid-60s, as Horn and Meyer are. But Bewkes wants to shake things up and bring in a new team to run Warners, which seems like a questionable move considering the unparallelled stability Warners has enjoyed under Horn and Meyer.

It definitely doesn't sit well with Reiner, whom I interviewed recently for a story about "Flipped." When the subject of Horn's 2011 departure came up, Reiner launched into a heated denunciation of Bewkes. I stopped him to make sure he realized he was on the record. He paused for a moment, as if considering the consequences, then said, "Absolutely." So Rob, what do you think about Bewkes giving Horn and Meyer the bum's rush next year?

"It's idiotic," he said. "In the 10 years that Alan Horn has headed the movie studio, Warners has had the best 10 years in the history of the movie business. Can you imagine how much money they've made, just on 'Harry Potter' alone? So if I'm the guy running Time Warner, I'd never get rid of the guy who brought that much success to the company. And even if I was a big enough idiot to say that I need my own new guys, I'd never say that I'm gonna put them in charge in two years, since it takes a bare minimum of three years to bring a new project to the screen. Even if you were dumb enough to want to fire the best guy in your company's history, why ruin the future for everyone else at the company? I mean, what a real boneheaded move."

If it's any consolation for Bewkes, Reiner is just as outspoken about a thousand other people, starting with President Obama, whom Reiner believes has been too much of a "pragmatist" in dealing with conservative opposition to his social agenda. But when it comes to loyalty to his friends, Reiner gets points as a stand-up guy. The old joke in Washington is that, like Hollywood, it's such a coldhearted town that if you want a friend, buy a dog. Luckily for Horn, he has Rob Reiner sticking up for him to the bitter end.  


Photo: Rob Reiner, left, with Warners president Alan Horn at the premiere for "Flipped" last month. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (8)

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I have no idea what Mr. Bewkes is thinking by trying to oust our golden child Mr. Horn. He has made our company Warner Bros. a lot of money and were going to just ditch Mr. Horn and Mr. Meyer, thats simply unacceptable to myself and everyother shareholder. I am disgusted by the bonehead move Mr. bewkes is making. What a JERK!

Just curious - are you actually on the Castle Rock payroll or does Reiner just pay you back with brunches and "exclusive" interviews? This snore-fest is going to land like a lead balloon, as it should. You can try to soften the blow for your buddy but it's still coming.

This is a bonehead move by Bewkes. Just a few weeks agoTime Warner reported Warner Bros. became the only studio in history to surpass $1 billion at the domestic box office for ten years in a row. It seems Bewkes is willing to ignore this feat that should be credited to Alan Horn and Barry Mayer's leadership.

The board of directors will have Bewkes' head if WB's box office performance takes a big drop after the change happens following 2011 and beyond.

Bewkes is an idiot for breaking this successful duo.

LATimes Reader get a clue....

Warner Bros. has to cut its profits because of high taxes. This move will do it.

Well at least bring in new blood gradually!!
I agree with Reiner, why kill the Warner goose which has been laying the golden eggs. Bewkes may well be left with egg all over his face.
Reiner's loyalty runs in a similar frame to old fashioned ideals of the 60's where his latest movie was set. "Flipped" seems like a special feel good film. I generally agree with Betsy Sharkeys reviews, as today, plus I read that Reiner found the lead boy actor in Australia. Dissatisfied with searching the country for the right person. Thats attention to detail. Good one Rob.


Thank you for the great stories you've told; the writers and actors and DPs and crews and producers you've worked with.

But thanks a helluva lot for having the guts to publicly diss
this studio moron JEFF BEWKES who doesn't believe in graditude for someone as successful and worthy as Mr. Horn.

In any other business -- there is absolutely no way that someone
with a solid and consistent track record as Mr. Horn, would
be treated this way. Unless he broke laws or did...whatever.

There's just no way I'll have any of my projects going
towards Warner Bros. without Mr. Horn at the helm.

Write on, right on!


Spreading the wealth and opportunity has always been a mainstay of most successful organizations. Do you think JNJ, GE, Google, MSFT and other companies did it by not retaining the best and offering the opportunity for expansions?

Attrition will occur at every level in life. What you hope to accomplish is the operations are running flawlessly, that anyone promoted will succeed and not fail. We have become isolationists and hoarded the knowledge, tools and resources to ourselves and shared that knowledge sparingly. To what end does that usually meet? Who gains, who benefits and who loses when something dire occurs?

I don't understand the niceties and intricacies of Hollywood, film making and I really don't care; but I would hope that when Rob leaves his legacy to someone else, that person is presented a gift of a lifetime and the shoes will be easy to fill. Always leave things better than you found it.

Isn't this what the movie industry has been doing for years. Getting rid of talented people who make them buss loads of money to bring in people they are cool with. It's funny how so many jobs do this type of thing. Get rid of their best workers to bring in people they like,but are inferior in terms of getting the job done.


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