After 20-Year Reign, Top Warner Execs Take a Hike
In an unusual but for the most part successful arrangement, Daly and Semel have shared top-executive duties at Warner for two decades. Their departure was announced as Warner was releasing the already controversial Eyes Wide Shut, director Stanley Kubrick's last film, starring real-life husband-and-wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Daly and Semel offered to fulfill their contracts, which run through 1999, and said they wish to make the studio's transition to new management as smooth as possible.
"There is never a good time to lose this kind of talent," said Levin, "but our film, TV, and music businesses—and our company as a whole—are in excellent shape, and there is a tremendous depth of management throughout our organization." Possible replacements include Warner chief operating officer Barry Meyer, Home Box Office chairman Jeff Bewkes, Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth, CBS Television chief executive Leslie Moonves, News Corp. chairman Peter Chernin, and DreamWorks SKG partner Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Daly and Semel reached their decision while vacationing in Europe and delivered it to Levin on their return. The 55-year-old Semel said, "If ever I was to pursue another challenge in my life, I felt the time was now." Daly, 62, mentioned that he had had only two jobs in his life: the first one at CBS for 25 years, and the second at Warner Bros. for 20. Read the complete text of the Time Warner press release here.