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Company Town | EXECUTIVE SUITE

Former Fox Exec to Join HBO Pictures

October 25, 1996|SALLIE HOFMEISTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A month after resigning as president of Fox Entertainment Group, John Matoian has signed on as president of HBO Pictures and HBO NYC, the movie development arms of Time Warner's Home Box Office premium cable service. Matoian takes the position vacated by Robert Cooper, who became president of Sony's TriStar Pictures in July.

"Movies is always where I felt most comfortable and where I've had the most success, and the best place to tell stories," Matoian said. "I promised myself that I would take time off between jobs for the first time in my life, but HBO is the pinnacle for someone into television movies."

He will start Dec. 2, after taking a trip to Europe.

Industry executives said the position may well be better suited to Matoian than his previous post at Fox, which he occupied for less than two years. Fox has slipped badly in the ratings this year, after an unsuccessful attempt last season to expand beyond its core focus on young, hip viewers.

"I never felt comfortable doing series," Motoian said Thursday. "It's a less natural storytelling form, especially comedy."

Motoian made his mark in movies as senior vice president of CBS' movie and miniseries department from 1992 to 1994. He joined Fox in 1994 as president of Fox Family Films, a division of 20th Century Fox. He was named president of the entertainment group six months later.

He said he was always frustrated at CBS by HBO's ability to attract talent to their movies who customarily snubbed television.

"HBO's original movies are now at a high watermark, with its two highest-rated movies ever this year," said Jeffrey Bewkes, the chairman and chief executive, referring to the recent "Gotti," based on the life of mobster John Gotti, and "If These Walls Could Talk," a movie about abortion with Demi Moore. "John is very thoughtful and understands what we're doing and can add a lot to our effort."

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