David Zaslav and Hollywood's Gilded Age of the Celebrity CEO
Can the Warner Bros. Discovery chief dazzle Tinseltown, or will his whopping paychecks disrupt the ultra-woke entertainment industry?
Hollywood is suffering from a serious personality deficiency.
There’s a vacuum of standout characters running studios these days with the public name recognition of recent (now mostly retired) moguls like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bob Iger, Barry Diller or David Geffen. Tinseltown now has more pencil pushers and less flash for an industry built by over-the-top personalities and ruthless power grabbers.
Enter David Zaslav, the longtime Discovery cable television chief whose $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia instantly makes him a dominant player in the streaming wars. Hollywood insiders say the mogul who’s already being proclaimed “King David” has the personality and panache to shake up the entire industry. He’ll need it as rivals take swipes, A-list talent throw tantrums and powerful Hollywood labor unions fight the notoriously frugal executive’s every cost-cutting move.
Zaslav’s charisma is a superpower that’s well known among industry insiders as a way the executive forges alliances and threatens rivals to get what he wants. The charm factor makes him one of the corporate world’s most well-connected leaders — and apparently someone you need to hang out with.
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