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IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE

Future Whalley Move Already Impacting
WB And Interscope
As word of Interscope-Geffen-A&M President Tom Whalley's eventual departure from the label to Warner Bros. Records has moved from rumor to reality, staffers and artists at both entities face uncertain times ahead.

With the news of Warner Music Group CEO roger ames',390,400);">roger ames',390,400);">Roger Ames' hiring of Whalley for a reported $30-$40 million over five years spreading throughout the industry like wildfire, insiders questioned whether the move would have a paralyzing effect on both companies.

At this point, all parties involved—Whalley, Interscope's jimmy iovine',390,400);">jimmy iovine',390,400);">Jimmy Iovine, UMG's Doug Morris and Ames—intend for the much-in-demand executive to stay on at Interscope for the 20 months left in his contract.

Whalley's staying at Interscope has also led to head-scratching at the Bunny, as everyone awaits current CEO russ thyret',390,400);">russ thyret',390,400);">Russ Thyret's return from vacation, when he will reveal his future plans.

Insiders said that if Thyret accepts Ames' offer to stay on board, whether it be as Co-Chairman with Whalley or in some other capacity, he will be a stabilizing force for the label.

In the meantime, sources said that day-to-day staff operations at both labels have returned to normal following the initial shock of the announcement last week.

"It's a wait-and-see attitude over here," said a source at WB Records. "People keep asking, ‘What does the Whalley thing mean?' Hell, I don't know."

For the Warner staff, the changing of the executive guard is becoming almost commonplace. Thyret's appointment to Chairman in 1995 was seen as a move by the corporate giants designed to calm the waters following nearly a decade of executive musical chairs that involved such luminaries as Michael Fuchs, Robert Morgado, mo ostin',390,400);">mo ostin',390,400);">Mo Ostin, lenny waronker',390,400);">lenny waronker',390,400);">Lenny Waronker, Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Morris, Rob Dickens and Danny Goldberg, among others.

For artists signed to the two labels and their managers, who deal with the executives on a daily basis, it also seems to be business as usual.

"Executive shuffling at the major-label level is nothing new," said a top manager. "Shakeups happen; you just hope your band's album does not got lost in the mix. An effective manager cuts through the internal label workings to best serve his clients."

In this case, the player is Whalley, considered by many in the industry as one of the top music men in the business today, and his leadership is either a massive gain or huge loss, depending on which side you are on.

"Tom Whalley's a great guy. He's been a pleasure to work with for as long as he's been at Interscope, " said Jeff Kwatinetz, co-founder of management company The Firm, home to such acts as Backstreet Boys, Korn and Michael Jackson. Firm artists Limp Bizkit and Orgy record for Interscope and Warner Bros., respectively. "I'm glad he's going to place where I will continue to work with him."

Many believe Whalley will make a greater impact at Warners than his departure will have on Interscope.

"I don't believe it will effect Interscope while he's still there," said Kwatinetz. "Knowing Tom, while he's at Interscope, he will work 100% for the company and will contribute."

Jim Guerinot, founder of Time Bomb and manager of Interscope's No Doubt, among others, said, "In the short term, Whalley's decision to leave will have absolutely no impact on No Doubt's ‘Return Of Saturn,' which is already in the marketplace.

"The practical reality of Tom's move is that, when I play in his golf tournament, there will now be little bunnies on my swag bag. And that's what it's all really about."

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