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TriStar Marketing Duo Headed for Universal : Hollywood: The much-respected team of Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones will replace Perry Katz, who gets a production deal.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a long-rumored move, outgoing TriStar Pictures marketing executives Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones are close to finalizing a deal to run marketing at Universal Pictures.

Shutt and Jones will replace Perry Katz, who was named Universal’s executive vice president of marketing only eights months ago. Universal sources say Katz will be given a production deal--a move he reportedly negotiated when he first took the job on an interim basis.

Shutt and Jones, who work as a team, are among the industry’s most respected marketing executives, having worked on such hits as “Philadelphia” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” Their hiring could spark other changes at Universal, though sources said nothing has been decided.

Shutt and Jones declined to comment on the move, as did MCA Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Pollock. Though their TriStar contracts run through December and they have reportedly been asked to stay long enough to market TriStar’s big November release, “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” sources said Friday that Shutt and Jones may move to Universal much sooner.

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The marketing veterans had been vacillating for months about whether to sign a new deal at TriStar, which, like Columbia Pictures, its sister studio at Sony Pictures Entertainment, has been undergoing internal strife for the past year.

In a cost-cutting move, Sony recently decided to merge the marketing departments of Columbia and TriStar, offering Shutt and Jones the combined job. To Sony’s surprise, they rejected the proposal and said they would move on after their contract expired. After much eleventh-hour scrambling, Sony handed the job to Columbia Pictures Vice Chairman Sid Ganis, who was named president of worldwide marketing for the two studios one week ago.

While Shutt and Jones were pursued by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, sources said Universal always had the inside track. Pollock reportedly expressed interest months ago in the two, and even offered to swap them for Universal executive Fred Bernstein.

Katz was hired as vice president of research at Universal in 1987, shortly after Pollock came aboard. In 1990 he was made a senior vice president of marketing under Si Kornblit and in 1992 was promoted to executive vice president of marketing after Kornblit’s departure.

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Katz viewed the marketing post as an interim position from the start, sources said. He declined to comment on the change, but sources said Katz has always wanted to move into production.

Shutt and Jones were running their own marketing company in New York when Dawn Steel hired them to run marketing at Columbia in 1989. Two months after their arrival, Columbia and TriStar merged their marketing departments under Shutt and Jones. In the fall of that year, the studios’ owner, Coca-Cola, sold the company to Sony. In June, 1991, the marketing departments were split again and the executives moved over to handle TriStar.

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Times staff writer Alan Citron contributed to this report.

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