UPDATE: Warner Bros. Legal Team Strategizing Jeff Robinov’s Exit
UPDATE: Warner Bros. lawyers are trying to figure out how to proceed with the impending exit of Jeff Robinov, according to a person close to the studio. The legal team is evaluating what it would cost to fire the 54-year-old executive versus crafting a more amicable parting which would mean a smaller settlement. Another source familiar with the charged atmosphere in Burbank, characterized the current situation as “untenable” — which hopefully means a resolution will come quickly. It’s clearly clean-the- slate time under newly minted chief executive Kevin Tsujihara, who is about to replicate on the movie side the kind of management shift he made just weeks ago in the TV division.
Jeff Robinov isn’t happy in his job, nor is Warner Bros. happy with him.
As expected, the parties will likely part company in coming weeks.
However, Robinov has not resigned his post as president of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, as reported by several news outlets on Thursday. Nor is he expected to quit since that would preclude him from getting a multi-million dollar settlement on his contract, which expires at the end of 2014, plus an additional severance package. If he gets pushed out as his former colleague, Warner Bros. Television Group chief Bruce Rosenblum, did last month, he would then be entitled to collect what’s owed him.
As of late Thursday, there were no settlement talks between Warner Bros. or its parent company Time Warner and Robinov’s legal team.
Reps from Warner Bros. and Time Warner did not return multiple calls to Variety seeking comment for this story. Nor did Robinov respond to an inquiry.
Tensions between Robinov and his bosses, newly installed CEO Kevin Tsujihara and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes, have escalated to a boiling point that few believe can be resolved. Robinov’s relationship with Tsujihara has been particularly frayed since Tsujihara took over as chief executive and has been more hands-on in the movie division. Robinov had been accustomed to a lot of latitude under his former bosses, Warner Bros.’ outgoing chairman Barry Meyer and former Warner Bros. president Alan Horn.
Robinov took the week off from work (apparently to deal with personal matters such as an operation on his sinuses) and is expected to be back on the Warner lot on Monday. That said, the situation with his future there was described by one knowledgeable source as very “fluid.”
At the moment, Robinov has no other job lined up. He has no interest in being a producer, according to people who know him well, and would like to find another top studio job. But there are no such openings at the present time. The only potential slot is at 2oth Century Fox, where chairman Jim Gianopulos is known to be looking to bring in a No. 2 to help oversee the movie studio.
But sources insist that would be an unlikely move for Robinov, given that he would want the same greenlight authority he has at Warner Bros. Gianopulos, who was only recently given sole oversight of the studio after News Corp. ousted his longtime co-chair Tom Rothman, is not about to give up or share that authority.
With no job prospect in sight and no chance of a payout if he quits, Robinov has no motivation to abruptly walk away from his present post without being shown the door.