That's about as warm as the comfort's going to get for a while, it seems, as Time Inc. tries to sell 18 titles at once, the parent company keeps working toward eliminating $2 billion in costs and Carl Icahn prepares to resume his agitation.
Mr. Icahn, Mr. Bewkes noted, actually performs a healthy function. Early this year, Mr. Icahn proposed breaking the company into four publicly traded baby Warners and won a few concessions (like that $2 billion in cost cuts) before backing down.
"I think he asked a very good question," Mr. Bewkes said. "I think he served as a very good -- I want to say this respectfully -- proxy for a question that should be asked. Frankly he wasn't the only one."
Though he didn't suggest anything like Mr. Icahn's break-it-up plan was actually under consideration, Mr. Bewkes said nothing was a sacred cow. "It is constantly looked at. What should we not have? Or what should we get?"
'Web 2.0' transformation
All that aside, Mr. Bewkes said executives were preparing for gains at movie studio Warner Brothers in 2007 -- especially with a new installment of the Harry Potter franchise -- and he expects to see AOL complete a transformation into a "Web 2.0 company" next year too.
Cable networks TNT and TBS finished this year's upfront ad market at the high end, he added, even as advertisers moved away from the upfront itself and certain broadcast networks hurt sales with weak "price leadership."