Jamie Kellner has resigned as chairman and CEO of AOL Time Warner Inc.
unit Turner Broadcasting System Inc., the company confirmed Tuesday.
He's being replaced by Phil Kent, who was the No. 2 executive at Cable News Network up to
about a year-and-a-half ago, when he left the company to pursue other interests.
Ironically at the time, Kellner passed Kent over to hire Walter Isaacson as
chairman and CEO of CNN, and in a teleconference Tuesday to discuss the moves,
Kent candidly said he left at the time because he didn't agree with that
Kellner, who has been based in Atlanta since becoming chairman of TBS, will
return to Los Angeles and will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of The WB
Television Network through the end of his employment contract, which goes to the summer of
But after that, he'll leave, he said, to spend more time with his family. He
said he approached Jeff Bewkes, head of AOL Time Warner's entertainment and
networks group, about winding down his involvement with the company late last
year, and Bewkes has been thinking about successors since then.
Between now and than, Kellner added, he will help Warner Bros. chairman Barry
Meyer decide who should succeed him as CEO of The WB. Two on the short
list, Kellner said, were Jed Petrick, The WB's chief operating officer, and
Jordan Levin, president of the network's entertainment division.
Kent, meanwhile, took a year off, but by late last year and early this year, he was
considering serious job offers.
He came this close to signing on with an undisclosed media company before
accepting an offer to come back and succeed Kellner at TBS, where he had served
in various capacities since 1993 before leaving. Before that, he spent six years
with Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles.
AOL Time Warner also said The WB, which had been folded into the Turner
group when Kellner took over, will now be detached from Turner and
reattached to Warner Bros.
As to why, Bewkes answered that The WB basically
followed Kellner to Turner. But the company discovered that the fit was better
at Warner Bros., where there are strong programming links, as well as ties to
Tribune Co., which has a 25 percent stake in the network.