UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM MYERS AND FLEISHMAN: Warner Bros has hired former White House Press Secretary and longtime political strategist/analyst Dee Dee Myers as EVP Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs replacing nine-year veteran Sue Fleishman. The move comes after Fleishman had to negotiate through a very rocky transition at the studio through several shakeups in 2013. That included the ascension of new Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara and the exits of the other two WB biggies angling for that gig — Warner Bros TV boss Bruce Rosenblum last May and Warner Brothers Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov the next month.
Myers is coming into a studio rocked by these exits. And although Warner Bros is still reaping the benefits of the pictures greenlit by Robinov — Gravity, The Lego Movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire, and others — it is being led by a studio chairman who has been in the job only a year and is seen as still trying to get his footing. The question is what will happen once the studio blows through all the projects set in motion by Robinov and what characteristic mark will Tsujihara make during his tenure? Fleishman was seen as Barry Meyer’s guy, which is kind of interesting because so was Tsujihara so go figure. Fresh blood now.
Warner Bros. has had a terrific run at the box office from those aforementioned films and is a force to be reckoned with TV powerhouse with such properties as The Big Bang Theory, The Voice, Two and Half Men, The Following, to name a few. They are also partnered with CBS in the CW Network where they produce Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Shameless, and syndicated hit The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Myers is a smart, aggressive woman who is not afraid to speak up. In fact, she wrote a book Why Women Should Rule The World about how things might be better worldwide if more women were in leadership roles. Her husband has long worked as a journalist (at the New York Times and Politico) and is currently the national editor and political correspondent at Vanity Fair (where Myers also wrote). Originally from Los Angeles, she worked for many years with former Mayor Tom Bradley and other politicians before heading to Washington, working with Walter Mondale’s campaign, Michael Dukakis, Dianne Feinstein, and then, of course, with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton as the White House press secretary for the first two years of the administration. She was the first female press secretary and one of the youngest to hold the job.
She is certainly not the first political press secretary/strategist to make the move to Hollywood. Years ago, Anna Perez, Barbara Bush’s press secretary, was hired at CAA. Zenia Mucha, currently EVP and chief communications officer at Disney, worked for Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and NY Gov. George Pataki. And Kori Bernards at Universal Pictures previously worked at the MPAA and in D.C. for 13 years with then-Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi (now House Minority Leader). “There is a fair number of people who go back and forth,” said Myers. “There’s an affinity between politics and entertainment but that being said, it’s very different and there will be a transition for me.”
Myers, who will start working right after Labor Day (on September 2) after relocating back to Los Angeles, said today she is not sure about any changes she might make to the staff as she first is going to spend her time getting to know them and the executives at the studio. “I need to spend some time getting to know people and knowing my way around Warner Bros. Kevin is a super-strategic interesting person and has a vision for the company going forward. I’m new to the team but excited about the direction we see him setting.” Which is something that she’ll have to clue the rest of us in on when there are any specifics.
She will be tasked with overseeing all corporate communications strategies and activities on a worldwide basis, including media relations, executive communications, corporate responsibility and philanthropy. She will report to Tsujihara.
Interestingly, Myers does have some film and TV credits to her name. She had been a consultant/script adviser on Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing and appeared in the film Contact for Robert Zemeckis and Jodie Foster. She said that she became familiar with the lot during that time. “I was in LA all the time and got excited about the creative process.”
“We are thrilled that Dee Dee will join Warner Bros at this exciting and transformative time at our studio and in our industry,” Tsujihara said in a statement. “Dee Dee brings a creative and strategic mindset to communications and public positioning. Her engaging and collaborative demeanor paired with her acute understanding of how to engage constituencies will help us strengthen our position as the leading global studio. I look forward to her becoming an integral part of our strong executive team.”
When reached on cell, Fleishman said, “I’m going on my first non-working vacation in 20 years and then will see where life takes me. I feel really good about this, and I know the studio is in great hands.”
Fleishman joined Warner Bros in 2005 as EVP Corporate Communications and was promoted to her current role in January 2009. Before that she was at Universal Studios in senior communications and corporate roles from 1995–2005. She started her career in NY, working at Rosen & Company, Sony and Continental Insurance.
Said Tsujihara: “In her nine years at Warner Bros, Sue masterfully navigated the constantly evolving 24/7 news and media environment. In addition to numerous other accomplishments, she established an international team and ensured both a global perspective and consistency to our company messaging. I’m grateful for her many contributions to Warner Bros. and know she’ll have great success in all her future endeavors.”