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WB Network cuts staff, executives

(Posted December 12, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

LOS ANGELES - The rumblings had been growing stronger all week. By Thursday, everybody at WB Network knew that layoffs were imminent, and that they would affect not only lower-level employees but also some senior executives.

But four days of nervous anticipation did little to soften the blow Friday, when pink slips were handed out formally to about 20 network staffers as part of a broader cost-cutting initiative throughout Warner Bros. and its subsidiaries.

“Gut-wrenching” was how one WB insider described the atmosphere at the network’s Burbank offices Friday as the affected employees were informed of their fates and given the details of their severance packages. “Painful and heartbreaking” was how WB Network chairman Garth Ancier described the process of deciding who to cut in an e-mail sent Friday evening to network staffers.

Senior executives let go included the network’s head of casting, Kathleen Letterie, executive vp casting and talent, who joined WB Network in its infancy, months before its January 1995 on-air debut; and executive vp Tracey Pakosta, co-head of comedy and alternative programming.

Scheduling chief Rusty Mintz, senior vp programming and scheduling, and Tal Rabinowitz, director of comedy development, also were among the prominent executives whose positions were eliminated, a WB Network spokesman confirmed. The WB’s sizable marketing and promotions department, which handles all of the network’s creative advertising, lost several positions, sources said.

The cuts at WB Network are part and parcel of the belt-tightening initiative under way at its parent studio, Warner Bros., which recently acknowledged plans to cut as much as 5 percent of its staff of 8,000 worldwide. Warner Bros. eliminated about 300 positions at the studio in November.

The cost-cutting focus at Warners comes at a time when Time Warner management is under pressure from maverick investor Carl Icahn and others on Wall Street to control overhead costs and re-evaluate spending priorities throughout its disparate film and TV divisions.

Source: MSNBC

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