Dick Robertson's Heirs: Not So Apparrent

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There’s intrigue brewing at the Burbank studios of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution (WBDTD).

According to numerous high-level accounts, over the past several months, Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer and Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum have been looking for someone to succeed longtime WBDTD President Dick Robertson.

Speculation that Robertson, a syndie-world institution, would retire has circulated for so long that many assumed it would be a done deal by the National Association of Television Program Executives conference last January.

Instead, Robertson has been front and center handling sales for the CBS comedy Two and a Half Men. Some say he’s staying on at the behest of the show’s producers, while others say it’s his choice alone.

Jim Paratore, executive VP of WBDTD and president of Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions unit, had long been the presumed heir apparent—until now.

Those said to have been approached include Steve Rosenberg, former domestic syndication president and co-president of worldwide TV distribution at Universal; Debmar Mercury co-owner and former Buena Vista Television President Mort Marcus; and Jim Packer, executive VP of worldwide TV distribution at MGM. (It’s believed that Rosenberg won’t leave New York for a post limited to domestic broadcast sales and that Warner Bros. has passed on Marcus’ demand for a pricey buyout.)

Although Paratore isn’t out of the running, there are doubts that he’ll remain beyond April 2007, when his contract expires, given that Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth is taking over prime time reality development from Telepictures—not to mention persistent speculation that Paratore will strike a deal with NBC to develop for syndication, the station group and prime time.

For his part, Paratore says there is a good deal of misinformation floating around but declines to comment further.

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