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Lynton, Pascal to Lead SPE into Digital Future

Michael Lynton was named chairman/ceo of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), filling the coveted position vacated by the retiring John Calley. In addition, vice chairman Amy Pascal was promoted to chairman of the Motion Picture Group at SPE in a further integration of global businesses and digital media, according to Howard Stringer, chairman/ceo of Sony Corp. of America and vice chairman of Sony Corp. Lynton, who had been president, Time Warner International; president, AOL International, and ceo, AOL Europe, since 2000, will be headquartered in Culver City, California. They begin their new positions effective January 2004

"The combination of Michael Lynton, with his diverse global business and creative experience, and Amy Pascal, with her command of the motion picture process, brings together a formidable partnership at exactly the right time," said Stringer. "We have just enjoyed two record-breaking years at SPE, and anticipate a brilliant 2004 with SPIDERMAN 2, BEWITCHED and a great slate of films. The studio is now in terrific shape, and we have a solid platform on which to build our digital future.

"Sony has been moving aggressively to achieve a true convergence of all of our businesses around the world. This is a critical juncture in the evolution of the digital world, and it is the right time for Sony and SPE to accelerate our strategy to be a fully integrated media, entertainment and technology company, merging our creative capabilities with the abundant digital technologies only Sony can offer."

Lynton and Pascal will both report to Stringer. They will serve on the SPE operating committee headed by Mr. Stringer, together with Jeff Blake, Yair Landau, Rob Wiesenthal, Joe Roth and Calley. Together, Lynton and Pascal will share joint responsibility for the Motion Picture Group.

Jeff Blake will continue as vice chairman, SPE and president, worldwide marketing & distribution, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, reporting to Lynton. Landau, vice chairman, SPE and president, Sony Pictures Digital with responsibility for Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Online Entertainment, will also report to Lynton.

"We are very happy to welcome Michael Lynton to SPE as its chairman and ceo," said Nobuyuki Idei, chairman/ceo, Sony Corp. "His experience in managing global businesses, together with his knowledge of both creative and digital media operations, will enable SPE to continue its evolution into a global digital media company and further our overall convergence strategy towards the broadband future."

While at Time Warner, Lynton was responsible for the successful turn-around of AOL Europe, and for extending AOL's global leadership in Asia and Latin America. As president of AOL International he oversaw the world's largest online Internet service, which operated in 17 countries and eight languages. He managed a significant turn around in revenue, and substantial growth of the AOL subscriber base. He joined Time Warner from the international media company Pearson plc, where he served as chairman/ceo of Pearson's Penguin Group from 1996-2000. While there he led the turn around of Penguin's global publishing operations, oversaw the successful acquisition and integration of Putnam Inc., and extended the Penguin brand to music and the Internet. Under his leadership the Penguin Group set records in bestsellers, revenues and profits.

Prior to Pearson, Lynton served as president of Hollywood Pictures, a division of the Walt Disney Co. (1992-96). During his tenure the studio produced a diverse and successful slate of films including THE ROCK, QUIZ SHOW, THE SANTA CLAUS and CRIMSON TIDE. He joined Disney in 1987 and started and built Disney Publishing, serving as its president. He came to Disney from Credit Suisse First Boston, where he worked in mergers and acquisitions from 1982-85 in New York, London and Melbourne.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.