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Guy McElwaine Quits Top Post at Columbia

Guy McElwaine has resigned as chairman and chief executive of Columbia Pictures, the motion picture arm of Columbia Pictures Industries. The announcement, made Wednesday by Columbia Chairman and Chief Executive Francis T. Vincent, came after months of speculation that McElwaine would step down.

McElwaine, a former talent agent and one-time press agent, was named president of the studio in 1981. The studio was purchased in 1982 by Coca-Cola Co., and he was promoted to chairman and chief executive in June, 1985. But a string of box-office disappointments during his tenure, including “Perfect,” “The Bride,” “Fast Forward” and “The Slugger’s Wife,” fueled speculation that he would be replaced.

Last Sunday, McElwaine was honored with the Variety Club’s Big Heart award. Accepting the award, he joked to the audience that when notified last year that he would be the recipient, he cautioned that because of the instability in the movie business, he might not still have his job when it came time to accept the award.

McElwaine, in Tucson for Columbia’s annual sales convention, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The company has not named a successor, but insiders say the leading candidate is Steve Sohmer, president and chief operating officer of the studio.

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