David Zaslav Sets Warner Bros.  Discovery Leadership Team

David Zaslav Sets Warner Bros. Discovery Leadership Team

David Zaslav will have a tight grip on the operations of Warner Bros. Discovery under the management structure unveiled for the new company that is set to emerge on Monday, variety has learned.

Zaslav, as longtime observers predicted, has opted to have a direct-report relationship with the leaders of the businesses he doesn’t know as well as he does cable channels and advertising sales, per individuals close to the situation. Those include Casey Bloys, president of HBO/HBO Max, Warner Bros. Pictures chairman Toby Emmerich and Warner Bros. TV Group chief Channing Dungey.

To help manage his large number of direct reports, it’s no surprise that Zaslav has tapped trusted Discovery lieutenants for key operational roles, notably Bruce Campbell and JB Perrette.

Campbell, who had served as Discovery’s chief development, distribution and legal officer for Discovery, will oversee all sales and revenue-generating operations for the company with an estimated market cap of $45 billion. Perrette, previously Discovery’s president and CEO of streaming and international, will oversee all streaming business operations, including HBO/HBO Max.

International channels for Warner Bros. Discovery will be headed up by Gerhard Zeiler, president of WarnerMedia International, who along with Bloys, Emmerich and Dungey is one of the key holdovers from the old regime that existed under AT&T ownership.

Kathleen Finch, formerly Discovery’s chief lifestyle brands officer, will oversee all linear cable programming operations with the exception of HBO and CNN, adding TNT, TBS, TCM, truTV, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim to her purview.

Discovery did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.

ace variety previously reported, the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger is set to close as early as Friday, with plans to officially open for business as Warner Bros. Discovery Monday.

Instead of installing an overarching leader for entertainment, Zaslav’s moves for Warner Bros. Discovery’s management structure signals his intent to get into the weeds with division leaders. The Discovery CEO, who spent 17 years as a business executive with NBCUniversal before moving to Discovery in 2007, is understood to be planning to study the market dynamics around movies, premium pay TV and high-end series work before making any sweeping moves at the studio.

Zaslav has spent the past 11 months since the $43 billion transaction was unveiled meeting with a who’s who of Hollywood leaders and creatives. He’s known to have received counsel from Bob Daly, the longtime CBS and Warner Bros. chief, and Bob Iger, newly unleashed from Disney.

Discovery is cleaning house among the top ranks at WarnerMedia ahead of the close of the two companies’ merger, which is expected to occur on Friday, with six more executives exiting on Wednesday, Variety has learned.

News of Zaslav’s planned Warner Bros. Discovery leadership team comes at the end of a week that saw many WarnerMedia execs head out the door. The exodus kicked off Tuesday with the resignation of WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, along with the exits of Andy Forssell, the executive vice president and general manager of HBO Max, and Ann Sarnoff, chair and chief executive officer of WarnerMedia’s studios and networks group. On Wednesday, six executive suite members were ousted: Jennifer Biry — chief financial officer; Jim Cummings — exec VP, chief human resources officer; Tony Goncalves — exec VP, chief revenue officer; Christy Haubegger — exec VP, communications and chief inclusion officer; Jim Meza — exec VP, general counsel, WarnerMedia; and Richard Tom—chief technology officer. In some cases, executives declined offers to stay in different capacities.

Discovery insiders repeatedly stress that Team Zaslav still hasn’t really gotten under the hood of the soon-to-be former WarnerMedia. The nature of the transaction that AT&T and Discovery agreed to allowed them to accelerate the closing process but it also kept the sides at arm’s length in terms of information until very recently. Between regulatory concerns and pandemic concerns, the leadership regime from Discovery has not yet met many key senior management executives beyond top division leaders.

“We are in for a long period of getting-to-know you,” said one Warner Bros. veteran.