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Three Sony Pictures executives out in major studio shakeup

Three Sony Pictures executives out in major studio shakeup
The Sony Pictures Entertainment studio lot in Culver City. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

In another major shakeup for Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Culver City-based studio is removing three executives as the company orchestrates sweeping changes to its home entertainment and television businesses.

Home entertainment president Man Jit Singh, worldwide networks head Andy Kaplan and television marketing president Sheraton Kalouria are all stepping down, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra told staff Tuesday. Their divisions will report to existing executives at the studio, part of an ongoing effort to consolidate operations as digital technology disrupts the traditional entertainment business.

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The restructuring is the latest move by Vinciquerra, who joined the company last year, to adapt the studio to a fast-changing industry in which home entertainment revenues continue to plummet as consumers switch to streaming and video-on-demand. Last year, Tokyo-based parent company Sony Corp. took a nearly $1-billion impairment charge, partly because of the deterioration of the home entertainment market.

"As you will see, the changes ... represent a significant restructuring of some traditional business models and processes that have been in place at the studio for years," Vinciquerra said in a memo to staff obtained by The Times. "Our decision to rethink the way we operate these units was driven by our goals to streamline SPE's business operations, making them nimbler and better aligned with a rapidly-evolving industry."

The ousters come several months after Vinciquerra named Mike Hopkins chairman of Sony Pictures Television, known for producing hit shows such as "The Blacklist" and "Better Call Saul." Hopkins, who was previously CEO of streaming network Hulu, made the decision with Vinciquerra to shake up the Sony business units, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to comment publicly.

The move comes shortly after longtime film executive Clint Culpepper stepped down as head of the Sony movie unit Screen Gems, known for mid-budget comedies, action flicks and horror pictures, after a period of box-office struggles.

The management changes follow another, much larger transition at Sony Corp., which last week named Kenichiro Yoshida to succeed Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai, who has led the electronics giant for six years.

Yoshida, who takes the top job in April after a stint as chief financial officer, signaled major changes to come at the overall company as Sony seeks to remain competitive with other electronics giants, saying he and Hirai "share a great sense of urgency regarding the need for us to enhance our competitiveness as a global company."

Home entertainment operations will now report to Keith Le Goy, who is president of distribution for Sony Pictures Television. Le Goy, who has been with the company for 18 years, will now report to both Hopkins for TV and motion picture group chairman Tom Rothman for distributing movies.

Sony's international networks business, which operates more than 100 channels in 178 countries, will report to Hopkins. Networks under Kaplan's purview included streaming service Crackle, Game Show Network (GSN), Japanese anime outlet Animax, and major operations in India.

Oversight of Sony Pictures Television's marketing group will be divided between three different units. U.S. and international distribution marketing will report to Le Goy, while consumer production marketing, publicity and talent relations will fall under Sony Pictures Television Studios president Jeff Frost. Event planning and marketing advertiser sales will report to Amy Carney, president of advertiser sales and research.

Vinciquerra said in his memo that management would meet with the affected business units in the coming days to discuss the changes.

"I realize these changes are significant and will be an adjustment for many of you, but they are important in our efforts to strengthen SPE overall and make it more agile and competitive in today's fast-moving environment," he said in his letter.

Sony is just the latest studio to respond to the streaming disruption by consolidating its home entertainment, marketing and distribution businesses. Time Warner Inc.-owned Warner Bros. Pictures recently gave movie studio chairman Toby Emmerich full oversight of worldwide theatrical production, marketing and distribution at the studio, leading to the exit of marketing and distribution head Sue Kroll.

Sony's film business is riding high on the box-office success of "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," which has given the studio a much-needed new franchise after years of lagging behind rivals. Analysts have long speculated that Sony would eventually sell its entertainment businesses, but management has denied that it plans to do so, and Vinciquerra has said he is a buyer, not a seller.

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