Warner Reorganizes PR and Marketing Teams

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group has undergone a reorganization of its public relations and marketing teams, cutting 15 jobs in New York and Los Angeles and promoting some executives, according to reports.

Variety broke the story about the cuts.

Warner is consolidating the marketing and public relations teams under Blair Rich, president of worldwide theatrical and home entertainment marketing, Variety reported, noting that the cuts were not related to the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

The studio is combining domestic and international publicity units under Michelle Slavich, head of global publicity and strategy.

“Back in January, we announced a restructure of our film and home entertainment businesses to enable us to remain competitive while facing an evolving business environment that grows more global every day,” Rich wrote in a memo to staff, Variety reported.

Dana Nussbaum will oversee theatrical media, Deadline reported, and will more closely align it with the home entertainment media unit. As part of the move, Jack Walker has been promoted to SVP, media and digital marketing, home entertainment, reporting to Nussbaum and Jessica Schell, EVP and GM, film at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, according to Deadline. Walker will work with Andrew Hotz, who oversees theatrical digital marketing and media, and Jeff Brown, who oversees home entertainment television, Deadline reported. Walker had previously reported to Schell and Brown.

Lynne Frank, president, international marketing and worldwide planning and operations for Warner Bros. Pictures, will be leaving the studio at the end of the year to pursue new professional opportunities, the studio announced Oct. 23.

Also leaving are EVP of international publicity Lance Volland and Ernie Johnston in promotions and field publicity, according to Deadline.

Netflix Fires Communications Boss for Racist Comments

Netflix has fired communications boss Jonathan Friedland for reportedly “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity” following separate uses of the racist “N-word” in meetings.

Friedland, who had led the subscription streaming video pioneer’s PR team since 2011, was dismissed by Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings. The latter announcing the move in an employee email – first disclosed by The Hollywood Reporter.

“Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity and is not in line with our values as a company,” Hastings wrote.

Friedland’s first use of the derogatory word occurred ironically in a PR meeting about insensitive words. Hastings, in the email, said Friedland apologized after the first occasion.

“We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated,” Hastings wrote.

Friedland allegedly used the racist term again speaking to two black human resources employees. The second use, which Hastings said he only learned about this week, occurred just days after the first offense.

Hastings attributed his lack of action following Friedland’s first offense to “my privilege” and attempt to “intellectualize or otherwise minimize race issues like this.”

The CEO went on to explain that for “non-black people” use of the “N-word” is unacceptable.

“There is not a way to neutralize the emotion and history behind the word in any context,” wrote Hastings.

Although criticized by some for its lack of black senior executives, Netflix has long sought diversity in its programming. The service recently ordered a third season of “Dear White People,” which deals with racism.

Netflix, which saw its stock top a record $400 per share this week, this year named former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice to its board of directors.

It also inked original production deals with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.