LOS ANGELES — Ann Sarnoff, group chief executive of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks, will be leaving the company, with an announcement coming as soon as this week, three people briefed on the matter said.
Ms Sarnoff, who declined to comment, was chosen to lead Warner Bros. in 2019 despite having limited Hollywood experience, becoming the first woman to hold the position. She leaves as WarnerMedia, a division of AT&T, is about to finalize a merger with Discovery. Ms Sarnoff’s boss, Jason Kilar, who has been chief executive of WarnerMedia since 2020, announced her exit on Tuesday.
Like Mr. Kilar, Ms. Sarnoff has found herself without a seat in the game of musical chairs that accompanies the merger of competing companies, said those briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss reports. confidential. The management structure of Warner Bros. Discovery is still unknown, but David Zaslav, Discovery’s chief executive, who will lead the new company, is expected to take over at least part of Ms Sarnoff’s portfolio. She had a dozen direct reports.
His work has involved overseeing HBO and HBO Max; the Warner Bros. film and television studio; several cable channels, including TBS and TNT; and a large consumer products division. Breaking down the siled nature of some of these units has been one of Ms. Sarnoff’s accomplishments.
Ms Sarnoff’s job security has been the subject of Hollywood gossip for months, with agents and Warner-affiliated producers insisting she was set to leave and some members of her team insisting otherwise . This kind of speculation can be deadly in show business, with whispers that freeze into conventional wisdom, often resulting in a position of irretrievable weakness in the eyes of Hollywood’s creative community.
To be fair, Ms. Sarnoff, a smart and gracious whip, never got a chance to really do her job. The pandemic put an end to the entertainment business about seven months after its debut. AT&T, which hired her, decided to part ways with WarnerMedia last May.
Prior to joining WarnerMedia, Ms. Sarnoff held senior positions at Nickelodeon, the Women’s National Basketball Association, Dow Jones and BBC America.