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Top Ranks of WB Network Revamped

Jordan Levin, who has borne the brunt of criticism over flagging ratings, is out as co-CEO.

June 15, 2004|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

Coming off one of its worst seasons ever, the WB Network reshuffled its executive ranks Monday, bringing to an end a strained power-sharing arrangement.

Jordan Levin, who spent a decade in top positions and had served since September as co-chief executive and co-chairman with Garth Ancier, resigned rather than accept a demotion to entertainment president. Ancier was named chairman, and Levin will be given a producing deal with Warner Bros. Television, which supplies much of the WB's programming.

Levin was forced out by his boss, Barry M. Meyer, the chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, a unit of Time Warner Inc.

A onetime comedy executive at Walt Disney Co.'s Touchstone Television, Levin played a key role at the WB in a partnership with major advertisers to develop "Gilmore Girls" and other family-friendly series.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 16, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Warner Bros. executive -- In an article in Tuesday's Calendar section about the management shake-up at the WB network, Warner Bros. Television Group Executive Vice President Bruce Rosenblum's name was given as Barry Rosenblum.

But as the network's ratings tanked this season, the 36-year-old Levin took much of the criticism. He has admitted that WB erred in, among other things, not delivering enough of the "reality" programming that its five broadcast competitors have championed to great success.

Ancier said Monday that "we have not really found our niche there yet," referring to reality programming.

Home to teen-focused dramas such as "Smallville" and "Everwood," the WB perennially places fifth among the six major broadcasters. But ratings weren't alone behind Monday's shuffle.

According to people close to the network, Meyer found Levin and Ancier's power-sharing arrangement burdensome and believed it contributed to at least some of the problems over the last year.

Although Levin and Ancier downplayed any tension in their relationship, insiders said Meyer was inevitably forced to mediate when the duo disagreed. Levin also butted heads over financial matters with Barry Rosenblum, a top Meyer deputy.

"Taking a nontraditional organizational route was a noble effort, but having a sole leader is simply more productive, efficient and effective," Meyer said in a statement.

In an interview, Levin said he had no desire to return to his role as entertainment president, a job he held from 2001 to 2003.

He recently signed a five-year deal to stay at the WB but hinted that he was likely to scout for a top executive position at another network or studio rather than remain an independent producer. "I look forward to seeing what's out there," Levin said.

The WB is said to be close to hiring David Janollari, a well-known independent producer perhaps best known for the HBO drama "Six Feet Under," as entertainment president, the top executive responsible for developing and scheduling programs. WB executives declined to comment, and Janollari did not return a phone call.

The WB is jointly owned by Warner Bros. and Tribune Co., which also owns The Times.

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