British film producer David Puttnam is expected to be named chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia Pictures at a press conference being held this morning at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Puttnam, 45, who is best known to American filmgoers for such recent hits as "Chariots of Fire" and "The Killing Fields," would assume the studio's top spot vacated in April with the resignation of Guy McElwaine.
Studio sources said today's press conference will be attended by both Fay Vincent, chairman of Columbia Pictures Industries, and Richard Gallop, CPI's president.
CPI, a division of the Coca-Cola Co., is headquartered in New York.
Puttnam, a London-based independent producer, has had a long relationship with Warner Bros.
In fact, Warner Bros. will release Puttnam's latest film--the $26 million "The Mission"--this fall in the United States.
No other executive changes are expected to be announced today, but Puttnam's appointment as head of the studio will cause speculation about the immediate future of Columbia President Steve Sohmer and John Fiedler, head of Columbia production.
Sohmer, a former NBC-TV programming executive, has been running Columbia on an interim basis since McElwaine left and would, in effect, be taking a step back. Fiedler, who was hand-picked by McElwaine, is in a job that usually changes with a new administration.