At its annual shareholders meeting on Friday, Time Warner had some good news to talk about—the success it had with March Madness, a strong summer movie lineup—but the shareholders in attendance seemed to be more concerned with the company's recent high-profile firings of Charlie Sheen and Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin.
A former Time Warner employee and current stockholder implored Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO, to “please bring back Charlie Sheen” with a new salary, for the sake of shareholders’ dividends. “Are you listening, Charlie?” the shareholder asked. Bewkes took this opportunity to tell the crowd that Two and a Half Men, a massive moneymaker since 2003, will resume with Ashton Kutcher joining the cast, news announced last week. Bewkes also noted that Time Warner “can’t comment much on Charlie Sheen” because of ongoing litigation. (Two and a Half Men airs on CBS, not a Time Warner property, but it's produced by Warner Bros. Television.)
Then there was another shareholder question about a significant Time Warner personnel elimination: the February firing of Jack Griffin, whose tenure as Time Inc. CEO lasted only six months. Regarding Griffin’s hiring, Bewkes said, “That was a decision I made that didn’t work out.” Bewkes assured the crowd that as the hunt for a new CEO continues, three seasoned company executives are minding the shop: general counsel Maurice Edelson, editor-in-chief John Huey, and CFO Howard Averill. Regarding the arrangement reached with this trifecta, Bewkes said, “The agreement we made was that they are not candidates for the CEO job.”
Personnel drama aside, Time Warner expressed plenty of optimism regarding the company’s upcoming summer season. Following a weak quarter for both advertising related to film products (down 15 percent year over year) and revenue from theatrical products (a 20 percent decline), a hit at the box office is a must-have. With the July 15th theatrical release of the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise, which has already earned a staggering $6.5 billion at the box office worldwide, Time Warner is likely hoping shareholders will forget about Sheen and Griffin.