COMPANY TOWN : Jacobson Steps Down at Fox, May Move to Disney, Sources Say

Tom Jacobson has stepped down as president of worldwide production for Twentieth Century Fox after six years as an executive with the studio and plans to start his own production company and return to the kind of hands-on movie making he did before joining Fox, the company said. Sources speculate that Jacobson will set up shop at Walt Disney Co., where his close friend and former Fox boss Joe Roth runs the motion picture studio.

Roth, who hired Jacobson away from Hughes Entertainment and brought him to Fox when he was head of the studio, said Monday, "If Tom wants to have his production company here [at Disney], we'd love it." Roth said he and Jacobson, whose wives, Donna Roth and Susan Arnold ("Unstrung Heroes"), are partnered in their own production company at DreamWorks SKG, have been discussing the idea of reuniting at Disney.

Fox management is expected to act quickly to fill the job and might tap Tom Rothman, who runs the Fox label Searchlight.

At Fox, Jacobson oversaw such films as "Home Alone," "Home Alone 2," "Die Hard 2," "Die Hard With a Vengeance," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Speed" and "Nine Months." In his former stint as president of Hughes Entertainment, he produced with writer-director John Hughes "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Uncle Buck."

* Kevin Mayer has been named vice president of strategic planning for Walt Disney Co.

* Norman Barnett will become senior vice president and general manager of Warner Hollywood Studios. Rob Gruen has been promoted to senior vice president of worldwide marketing and retail business development for Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

* Sharan Magnuson was promoted to vice president of entertainment publicity at Fox Broadcasting Co. Separately, Bill Bence was named director of movies and miniseries publicity, with Ted Johnson named manager of editorial publicity.

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