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Warner Splits Up Production Team

April 22, 1998|JAMES BATES and CLAUDIA ELLER

Warner Bros. officials confirmed late Tuesday that one of the studio's two production presidents, Bill Gerber, is being made a producer amid one of the company's worst box-office slumps ever. That leaves Lorenzo di Bonaventura--with whom Gerber had repeatedly clashed--the sole head of production.

Following a string of expensive box-office duds that includes "The Postman," "Father's Day" and "Mad City," pressure has been mounting at the Burbank studio for changes in its senior production ranks.

Gerber and Di Bonaventura were teamed in 1996 to replace former production head Bruce Berman, and were being counted on to take some of the workload off studio chiefs Robert Daly and Terry Semel. The latter, Hollywood's longest-running studio team, had at the time been given the added responsibilities of overseeing the music division for Time Warner Inc., the parent of Warner Bros.

They had been expected to delegate significant responsibilities to the two production executives, but as box-office woes continued, Semel became more hands-on in choosing which movies to make. Once close friends and allies, Gerber and Di Bonaventura found themselves competing against each other and often butting heads over creative matters.

Daly and Semel had hoped the pair would establish the kind of successful partnership they had forged themselves. Instead, the two frequently fought over turf that both concluded could be handled adequately by one executive.

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