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Sherak Tapped to Head New Movie Unit at Fox

COMPANY TOWN

Films: Veteran studio exec agrees to stay for six more years. Duties will remain largely the same.

January 31, 1997|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Longtime 20th Century Fox executive Tom Sherak, one of the handful of top Hollywood executives who has worked for the same studio for any length of time, has agreed to stay put for six more years with a bigger title and a few more duties.

Sherak, a 13-year Fox veteran, was named chairman of 20th Domestic Film Group, a newly formed division, in a promotion that was widely expected.

Sherak's duties, however, will remain largely the same, overseeing movie distribution as well as post-production and special projects. Fox said Sherak's promotion reflects his further "transition from line executive duties to a more senior corporate function."

Sherak continues to be Fox's point person with a variety of directors and producers, including George Lucas. That relationship is a critical one now because Fox, which released Lucas' lucrative "Star Wars" trilogy in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is re-releasing the films this week, is jockeying to land the next installments that Lucas is currently planning.

Sherak's promotion makes him the No. 3 executive at the studio, which is now led by Chairman Bill Mechanic, following the recent promotion of Peter Chernin to second-in-command of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Fox's parent.

The No. 2 spot at the studio is still unfilled. Hollywood executives expect Mechanic to wait a few months before bringing in someone, most likely an executive he has worked with who can serve as his trusted lieutenant.

Sherak and Mechanic have had conflicts in the past, although they apparently have reached a working accommodation. In a statement, Mechanic said the promotion "reflects our commitment to Tom and his importance to us in the rebuilding of Fox."

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