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Warner Bros. Discovery Taps Robert Gibbs as Comms Chief

Warner Bros. Discovery is set to name Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary to former President Barack Obama, as its new communications chief, Variety has confirmed. The company is expected to make the announcement official on Monday, and is believed to have already informed WBD chief David Zaslav’s direct reports with the news.

Gibbs will take over the role from former corporate communications chief Nathaniel Brown, who exited the company in January. The exec will work closely with Zaslav in shaping the company’s corporate messaging and in other arenas. The search for Brown’s replacement took six months as Zaslav was believed to be searching for a major name to fill the role, and sources said the exec believes he’s excited by the pick.

Gibbs was a longtime senior advisor to Obama and served as his press secretary from 2009 to 2011. He later worked as executive VP and global chief communications officer for McDonald’s from 2015 to 2019.

Gibbs’ most recent role was as a partner at the communications firm Bully Pulpit International. He hosts the podcast “Hacks on Tap” with David Axelrod and Mike Murphy.

Brown was hired in 2019 by Discovery Inc. and, during his tenure, navigated the merger between the company and WarnerMedia to form Warner Bros. Discovery, which closed in April 2022. At the time of his exit, a source told Variety the decision to leave Warner Bros. Discovery was completely mutual between him and Zaslav.

“We are in the process of conducting a thoughtful and thorough search, internally and externally, for a new Comms leader and will let you know when we have selected a candidate,” Zaslav wrote at the time in a memo to staffers. “In the meantime, I have asked our head of executive communications, Laura Watson, and the head of comms for Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, Katie Martin Kelley, to oversee corporate communications on an interim basis.”

Likely to be among early issues on Gibbs’ plate: the fate of the NBA on WBD’s TNT. WBD’s exclusive negotiating window to renew media rights lapsed in April, and the conglomerate more recently was believed to be lobbying for a smaller deal that might keep some games on TNT. Also coming this summer, WBD and Disney are set to launch a streaming bundle with Max, Disney+ and Hulu. 

The Hollywood Reporter was first to report the news.

(Michael Schneider contributed to this report.)

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