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The Panic in Zazworld

David Zaslav
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty
Dylan Byers
March 25, 2022

One year ago, David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Discovery, and John Stankey, the C.E.O. of AT&T who oversaw its ill-advised conquest of the WarnerMedia assets, met for breakfast at a rented Greenwich Village townhouse to start formally discussing what would become one of the biggest media mergers of the decade. Two weeks from Monday, they will officially close that deal, giving birth to a new, Zaslav-led media giant with ambitions to rival the likes of Netflix and Disney. The close of the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, and the launch of Warner Bros. Discovery, will take place on April 11, sources familiar with the matter tell me. Zaslav and his team are currently making plans to ring the bell on the Nasdaq stock exchange that morning.

While the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery is now guaranteed, the organization’s corporate structure remains a mystery—even to the vast majority of executives and high-level staff who are poised to be promoted, demoted, or kindly shown the door in the days and weeks after Zaslav takes the helm, sources at WarnerMedia and Discovery told me this week. In the absence of any clear information about the forthcoming org chart, current and future Zaslav lieutenants have adopted a game of high-anxiety telephone, frenzied tea-leaf reading, panic-texting, and trading whatever gossip they can pick up from friends and colleagues. Some even ask me what I’ve heard, as if I work in WBD H.R.