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Company Town : Goldberg Out, Thyret in at Warner Bros.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The revolving door at Time Warner Inc.'s music division spun again Monday when Russ Thyret succeeded Danny Goldberg as chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros. Records.

Thyret is the second executive to assume the post since revered Warner veteran Mo Ostin quit in January following a power struggle with corporate brass. Goldberg will leave the firm immediately after just eight months on the job, the latest casualty in a yearlong shake-up within Warner Music Group.

News of Thyret’s promotion was met with enthusiasm inside and outside the company.

“This is a great choice and an excellent move toward bringing everyone together and restoring stability,” said Ostin, who has worked closely with Thyret over the past two decades. “Russ is a total record man--brilliant, experienced and well-rounded in every aspect. He is eminently qualified. . . . I love the guy.”

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Thyret, who joined the firm in 1971, is a seasoned and personable Warner veteran who honed his executive skills while running its sales, marketing and promotion departments. He has been the leading candidate for the chairmanship since July, when Ostin and Lenny Waronker, the label’s former president, turned down offers from Time Warner to return.

In its press release, Time Warner said Goldberg was leaving the label to pursue other interests, but it is widely known that he has been at odds with Michael Fuchs, the recently installed chairman of Warner Music Group, almost since the day Fuchs took over. The two are said to have clashed over issues related to management style and creative control, and Fuchs reportedly disapproved of Goldberg’s desire to run the Burbank label from New York.

Golberg’s departure marks the seventh senior executive to exit since last summer, when Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin authorized a controversial plan to restructure the nation’s largest and most successful record conglomerate.

Since taking over, Fuchs has fired two top executives: Doug Morris, domestic chairman of Warner Music, and his chief operating officer, Melvyn Lewinter. These follow the previously forced departures of four veteran Warner executives: Ostin, Waronker, Robert Krasnow and Robert Morgado.

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Sources speculated that Fuchs will shut down the Warner Music U.S. division in the weeks ahead after he issues walking papers to the domestic division’s remaining top dogs, Ina Lea Meibach and Ken Sunshine.

Fuchs is also expected to sever ties with controversial Interscope Records before Wednesday, when Warner Music Group’s convention begins in Washington. But negotiations have bogged down in recent days, leading sources to speculate that a deal enabling Time Warner to shed its 50% stake in Interscope might take several more weeks to resolve.

Despite the recent turmoil at Warner Bros., Thyret said he is optimistic about the future and his new role there.

“You’d have to be dead not to get excited about running a company with the high caliber of artists and employees we have here at Warner Bros.,” said Thyret, who has been operating as vice chairman of Warner Bros. Records since January. “I mean, this is my home. It’s the only record label I’ve ever worked at. To call this opportunity a dream come true would be a drastic understatement.”

Michael Laney has been promoted to senior vice president of operations for the feature animation division of Warner Bros.

David Knoller has joined American Movie Classics as senior vice president of programming and production.

Columbia TriStar International Television has promoted Rachel Wells to senior vice president of marketing and sales support.

Eastman Kodak Co. hired Joerg D. Agin, a senior vice president at MCA/Universal Studios and a 25-year Kodak veteran, to develop and market products for the entertainment industry.

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* Rick Mater was named standards and practices chief at WB Television Network.

* Mike Mellon has been named senior vice president of research and Dan Fauci was promoted to senior vice president of comedy development for the Network Television Division of Paramount Television Group.

* Univision Television Group has named Maureen Schultz director of research.

* Sheldon A. Saltman has joined Williams Television Time as special projects adviser.

* Maggie Malina has been promoted to vice president of Pacific Western Productions.

* Todd Mansfield was promoted to executive vice president and general manager of Disney Development Co., based at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. In a related move, Wing Chao was named senior vice president of master planning, architecture and design at Disney Design & Development in Burbank. Eric J. Petro has been promoted to vice president of finance and planning, and Michele Gazica has been promoted to vice president of participation accounting for Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group.

* Bender, Goldman & Helper has promoted Patricia Carroll to vice president of worldwide corporate entertainment.

* Karyn Ulman has joined DIC Entertainment as vice president of music.

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* Producers Mindy Green and Nancy McCabe have launched Greatview Entertainment, signing a development deal with Viacom Productions.

* Carole Field has been named senior vice president of advertising, promotion and corporate information at PBS.

* ABC Television Network Group has appointed Brian McAndrews to executive vice president of production.

* Caryn Landau has been promoted to vice president of production at New Regency Productions.

* Holly Stein has been named vice president of licensing and marketing and Jim Banister has been named vice president of production technology for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

* Joanne N. Burns has joined Nielsen Media Research as senior vice president and director of marketing for Nielsen Syndication Service.

* Grace M. Salafia was named director of corporate communications at PolyGram Holding Inc.

* PolyGram Video appointed Tim Pearson vice president of business development.


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