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Sony Pictures Adds Titles for Top Execs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sony Pictures Entertainment realigned the titles of its top film executives, naming Sony executive Howard Stringer as its chairman and giving President John Calley the added title of chief executive.

The move appears to formalize existing job duties, as well as give Stringer a more visible post as he figures out how to mesh Sony’s movie and TV units with Sony’s push into digital technologies.

As areas such as digital television, satellite systems and online technology develop, studios are increasingly spending more time trying to gauge how the distribution of their films and TV shows will be affected.

“We’re all looking to get a handle on where there will be money in the future. That’s a very difficult question,” Stringer said.

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As part of the announcement, Sony named Co-President Robert Wynne, who has been running the movie unit’s day-to-day operations, as its chief operating officer.

Sony executives stressed that Stringer will have no operational duties at the studio, and that both he and Calley will continue to report separately to Sony Corp. President Nobuyuki Idei.

“I don’t think it’s going to mean a great deal to the studio,” Stringer said of his new title, adding that all decisions on the studio will remain with Calley.

“He’s indispensable, while I’m a digital luxury,” Stringer said. “John clearly is really in charge, and we’re not pretending otherwise.”

For his part, Calley said that he’ll have more time to devote to developing movies.

Calley dismissed suggestions that Stringer’s appointment lays the groundwork for an eventual succession plan. Hollywood executives have periodically questioned how long Calley, 67, might stay at the studio, especially after undergoing surgery last December to unclog an artery in his neck.

But Calley said he recovered quickly from the operation, adding that he still has 3 1/2 years remaining on his contract with the company.

Stringer is the former president of CBS Broadcast Group and president of CBS News. He left the company in 1995, working at the Tele-TV venture before joining Sony Corp. of America in 1997 to oversee strategic planning and other areas.

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Calley was a longtime Warner Bros. executive who largely left the film business in the 1980s, returning in 1993 as president of United Artists. He was named president of Sony Pictures in October 1996.

Wynne was a longtime entertainment lawyer who joined Sony as an executive iin November 1995.


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