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An Old-School Media Titan Pushes Aside an Upstart

Mr. Kilar, 50, fashioned himself as a disrupter inclined to break with the status quo in the pursuit of innovation. He became the chief executive of WarnerMedia in April 2020. He previously had started a video streaming company called Vessel and had managed Hulu, where he gained a reputation for thwarting the desires of the entrenched media executives overseeing the company.

HBO Max made a lackluster debut just two months after his arrival at WarnerMedia. By August, Mr. Kilar dismissed Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly, two longtime television executives who were in charge of the streaming service’s programming. Mr. Kilar also laid off some 1,000 employees.

Those inside the company credit Mr. Kilar with two important decisions that have better positioned the company in the current media climate. He oriented all the divisions around HBO Max. He also hammered on the importance of making HBO Max a global streaming service, accelerating its rollout. HBO Max is set to expand into Latin America and the Caribbean next month. The European launch is scheduled for later this year.

But now the television veterans are in control.

Mr. Zaslav has run Discovery since 2007. He started his media career in 1989 at NBC, ultimately helping to create cable networks like CNBC and MSNBC and expanding USA and Bravo around the world. Known for celebrity-strewn parties at his East Hampton, N.Y., estate, Mr. Zaslav has long been one of the highest-paid chief executives in media. Last year, his compensation totaled $37.7 million. In 2018, when he signed a new contract, he received more than $100 million in Discovery stock.

Richard Gelfond, the chief executive of Imax, predicted in a CNBC interview that Mr. Zaslav would bring a “diplomatic soft touch” to WarnerMedia’s shifting movie releasing strategy. “He’s been an innovator, but he knows how to do it within the confines of the existing system,” Mr. Gelfond said.

Pulling strings in the background, per his style, will be Mr. Malone.

Nicknamed the “cable cowboy,” in part because his base of operation is in Colorado, Mr. Malone, 80, is the consummate deal maker. Mr. Zaslav in Monday’s call described him as “a teacher, and a best friend and really a father to me.” He has a reputation for putting together complex transactions that limit his tax exposure. He began amassing his fortune in 1973 when he took over Tele-Communications Inc., an almost-bankrupt cable company that he grew and then sold to AT&T in 1998 for $32 billion. A subsidiary, Liberty Media, was spun off into its own entity with Mr. Malone at the helm.

Liberty holds significant stakes in a variety of entertainment companies, including Discovery, the Atlanta Braves and SiriusXM. The company purchased Formula One racing in 2016 for $4.4 billion. And in 2017, Discovery purchased Scripps Network Interactive for $11.9 billion, which added HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network to its media arsenal.

In 2019, after selling his shares of Lionsgate, Mr. Malone increased his ownership of Discovery, purchasing $75 million of additional shares for a total 23 percent stake.

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The Best Movies and TV Shows New to Netflix, Amazon and Stan in Australia in May

MAY 7

Produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock and created by Meredith Scardino — a team that has collaborated before on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Mr. Mayor” and “Saturday Night Live” — the sitcom “Girls5eva” is about a formerly popular 1990s girl group that attempts a comeback. The band is played by a mix of real-life comedians and musicians: Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps. Expect plenty of jokes about ageism and sexism in the music industry, cushioned by the kind of goofy absurdism common to Fey and Carlock’s comedy.

MAY 14

Whether or not you’re a fan of Formula One auto racing, you can learn a lot from this gripping 2010 documentary about Ayrton Senna, a Brazilian driver who fought against an establishment that resisted his more aggressive, daring approach. The director Asif Kapadia (who later won an Oscar for his equally thorough and compelling Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy”) here combines exciting archival footage with some fascinating history lessons, detailing the ways that traditionalists and bureaucrats sometimes suppress innovation and stifle competition.

MAY 27

The final season of this soapy drama will wrap up the sometimes triumphant and sometimes troubling stories of three millennial ladies: the soul-baring journalist Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), the social media influencer Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) and the aspiring fashion designer Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy). It might also reveal the fate of the once-indomitable women’s magazine they’ve all worked for. Over the course of its first four years, “The Bold Type” evolved from being a portrait of a generation to becoming an unusually plugged-in (if somewhat fantastical) commentary on the state of modern media. It has also featured fantastic performances from its three leads, whose powerful presence in these roles will be missed.

Also arriving: “My War on Drugs” (May 3), “Basketball: A Love Story” Season 1 (May 5), “Belushi” (May 6),“Bloods” (May 6), “The Flood” (May 6), “Lassie” (May 6), “Pinocchio” (May 11), “Domina” (May 15), “The Lost Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs” (May 12), “Liar” Season 2 (May 15), “Generation Gifted” Seasons 1-3 (May 19), “Battle of the Sexes” (May 22), “Fighters” (May 23), “Black Monday” Season 3 (May 24), “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” (May 25), “Deep Water” Season 1 (May 26), “Endangered Wildlife Sanctuary” (May 27), “Madagascar: A Little Wild” (May 28), “Venus and Serena” (May 29).

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