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Ex-Sony Executive Gets Top Post at Lions Gate

March 22, 2000|SALLIE HOFMEISTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jon Feltheimer has been named vice chairman and chief executive of Lions Gate Entertainment, the Vancouver, Canada-based entertainment company and distributor of independent films such as "Dogma" and the upcoming "American Psycho."

Feltheimer, who until last year was president of Sony Pictures Entertainment's television group, became a director of Lions Gate in January, after spearheading a $33-million round of financing for the company. The other investors included Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures, Capital Research & Management Group and international broadcasters Telemunchen and SBS Broadcasting.

The initiative is one of the first by Mediapact, a media management and soon-to-be private equity fund recently formed by Feltheimer and former investment banker Michael Burns. As part of Tuesday's announcement, Burns, who has also served on Lions Gate's board since January, was named vice chairman of the company.

In addition to tenures at Prudential Securities and Shearson Lehman Bros., Burns is co-founder and co-chairman of Hollywood Stock Exchange, chairman of Novica.com, an e-commerce company, and chairman of Ignite Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based entertainment agency.

Feltheimer said Mediapact will provide a "portable management team" for its portfolio companies, which will concentrate primarily on the convergence of technology and entertainment. He added, however, that he would remain head of Lions Gate to carry out the company's new strategy of supplying programming to investment partners such as SBS, Telemunchen and others.

He said the company will continue to distribute edgy independent films that the big studios shy away from, while also using the production subsidies it receives from the Canadian government as an advantage in supplying one-hour television programs as well as Web programming.

Frank Giustra, a former investment banker and founder of Lions Gate, will relinquish his title as chief executive while remaining as chairman. Giustra formed Lions Gate in 1997 from the acquisitions of North Shore Studios, a Canadian sound studio; Cinepix, the country's oldest distributor; and Mandalay Television. "It was his intention from day one to bring in a seasoned veteran to run the company," said spokesman Peter Waal.

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