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Bronfman and Cohen contend that Whalley would be doing far better if he listened to them rather than keeping them at arm’s length out of an undisguised disdain for the pair’s judgment, or lack thereof.

I.B. BAD SAYS THINGS ARE HOPPIN’ AT THE BUNNY

In One Corner, Lyor Cohen; in the Other,
Tom Whalley. May the Best Man Win
In the rapidly unfolding saga of Tom Whalley, whose future at Warner Music is anything but certain, the Warner/Reprise chief is said to be looking for a very rich new deal. He’s asking for this big payoff despite the fact that WB has lost 25-30% in marketshare during his seven years at the helm of a label whose roster was once second to none.

The number of acts Whalley has signed and broken during that time is negligible, according to Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Lyor Cohen, who were supposedly stunned by his demands. They contend that he would be doing far better if he listened to them rather than keeping them at arm’s length out of an undisguised disdain for the pair’s judgment, or lack thereof.

Given Whalley’s aloofness toward his bosses and his weaknesses outside of rock, the smart money is on Bronfman and Cohen continuing in their resolve to replace him with a more cooperative executive who can develop talent in the pop, urban and country areas. That said, the appeal of running this storied company is offset by the challenge of having to work under WMG’s ruling twosome—likely limiting the list of candidates for the job.

But before they cast Whalley out, Bronfman and Cohen should take into consideration his tight relationship with Q Prime co-rulers Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, whose clients include cornerstone WB acts Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Pe ppers, neither of which they can afford to lose, as WMG continues hemorrhaging talent.

Some time ago, the two managers moved Metallica to WB from Warner’s East Coast operation as a result of their contentious dealings with Cohen while he ran IDJ, and those close to the situation say the band’s next album will be their last with WMG.

Some insiders believe Whalley’s close ties with Burnstein and Mensch have further distanced them from Cohen, potentially giving them huge leverage should they decide that Warner needs to get rid of Cohen rather than Whalley.

Meanwhile, WMG has re-upped WB veteran Diarmuid Quinn, who some believe could wind up as Whalley’s replacement.

In other Bunny business, what other highly successful WMG executive is said to be desperate to leave the company?

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