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Paramount consolidates operations in major reorganization

September 28, 2011|By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
  • Paramount Pictures at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.
Paramount Pictures at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles…)

In a reflection of rapid changes unfolding in the movie industry, Paramount Pictures is consolidating its DVD, television and digital businesses, as well as more closely aligning its domestic and international marketing and distribution operations.

Studio Chairman Brad Grey unveiled a major reorganization Tuesday that will see all units that release movies after their runs in theaters merged into a new division called Home Media Distribution. Additionally, Paramount, which is best known for films such as "Transformers" and "Star Trek," is relocating its main international operation, currently headquartered in London, to Los Angeles to integrate it with the rest of the studio.

Two veteran executives are leaving as part of the shift. Paramount Digital Entertainment President Tom Lesinski has been let go because the studio is disassembling his unit, formed in 2003 to take advantage of the emergence of new platforms. President of Domestic Distribution Jim Tharp, who joined the studio from DreamWorks in 2006, is retiring.

It remains to be seen whether Andrew Cripps, president of Paramount Pictures International, will make the move to the studio's Melrose Avenue lot in L.A.

No further job cuts are immediately planned as part of the reorganization, though some may occur as the television, DVD and digital distribution operations are merged, according to a person familiar with the studio's plans but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

The changes reflect the proliferation of new digital businesses including Netflix and iTunes and the growing prevalence of simultaneous "day and date" releases around the world for big-budget tentpole films. Consequently, studios' various divisions more frequently overlap. Walt Disney Studios implemented a similar reorganization in late 2009.

"As the lines between different parts of the movie business blur, we wanted to have one organization focused on maximizing the value of our product," said Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore.

Dennis Maguire, formerly president of home video, will run the new home media unit and report to Moore.

Paramount is also restructuring its marketing division, with former Co-Presidents of Domestic Marketing Josh Greenstein and Megan Colligan both expanding their roles. Greenstein was named chief marketing officer, overseeing worldwide advertising and all methods of distribution.

Colligan will serve as president of domestic marketing and distribution. In addition to overseeing U.S. marketing campaigns, she will also be in charge of theatrical distribution. Former Executive Vice President of Sales Don Harris, who is taking Tharp's job, will report to her.

Paramount Digital Entertainment, meanwhile, will see its disparate operations, including video games and original Web content, divided among different executives.

The changes were made in advance of Paramount parent company Viacom Inc.'s new fiscal year, which begins Saturday.

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