Gang of Five: the CEOs Deciding Hollywood's Fate
A look at the quintet whose moves this year will be as much psychology as spreadsheet
Pity the CEOs.
They have become the one-word lightning rods for all our woes. Today’s entertainment studio CEOs are caught between rival mobs, both more or less constantly demanding their heads on a pike. They are blamed for leading their companies down cul-de-sacs of doom in the Streaming Wars, neglecting their long profitable businesses. Supposedly they were kowtowing to the whims of Wall Street, but the moment it became clear that none of the legacy studios were going to deliver another Netflix stock miracle, the street was happy to throw them and their companies overboard, blaming them for following their advice.
Meanwhile, in the inevitable pullback that followed, they are held up as classic fat cat villains, their phantasmagoric pay packages contrasted with the legions carrying their personal effects out of the studio gates, pink slips in hand; as well as the lines of picketers until recently marching on the sidewalks in front. Chosen largely for their steady hands at the wheels of complex financial instruments, these anti-glamorous (almost exclusively) MBA types are suddenly expected to serve as the spokesmodels for the highest profile companies on earth, their every fumbled or blinkered pronouncement drawing the hatred of strikers, fan boys, Wall Street analysts and every one in between.
The problem boils down to, for maybe the first time in Hollywood history, the interest of the owners/CEOs as a class no longer aligns with the interest of the audience and of the of the artists and artisans who staff this place.
In the past, the studios may have been run by the most rapacious, mendacious greed monsters ever created, but all agreed, the basic goal was hits. Hits made a business. Hopefully, a lot of them. And flops sank it.
Thats not where this ends anymore.