Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Tom Rothman called in, calling himself “a lucky boy today.” After leaving Fox, Rothman said he wasn’t sure what he would do. “I didn’t have a clue,” he said. “I had the same job, in the same office, with the same 16-minute drive to and from the lot, for 18 years. I worked there longer than I lived at home with my parents in Baltimore. Fox was a wonderful journey, and I went right into Robopocalypse because when Steven Spielberg calls, you answer. When that movie got postponed, I did the thing they always tell you to do. I took a breath. I got to thinking about what I would like to do. I’m fortunate for Amy and Michael’s support and embrace of me. I am getting to do what I like to do and historically have been pretty good at.” Rothman said he also played a lot of golf since January, shaving about seven shots off his score. “I went from being horrible to merely bad,” he explained. After a long-planned two week vacation, he will begin staffing up. Rothman expects to generate four projects a year, and will go at it just as hard on the TV side. This will take awhile since he’s starting from scratch.

EARLIER, BREAKING 1:20 PM: Former Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman and CEO Tom Rothman is teaming with Sony Pictures to launch TriStar Productions, a joint venture that will augment the output of Sony’s film and TV product. This was just announced by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony is going to provide funding for the venture and retain distribution rights around the world. Rothman will hold the title of TriStar Productions chairman and receive an equity stake in the new company. He reports to Lynton and Pascal.

Rothman will staff up with production execs and TriStar will have its own strategic marketing capabilities but the movies will be released through Sony’s pipeline. It gives the studio another generator of product to go with Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Classics and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, the latter of which has sometimes had acquisitions released through the venerable TriStar banner.

It puts Rothman back to calling the shots at a film company. The lawyer-turned-studio executive ran the Samuel Goldwyn Co, worked at Columbia, but the bulk of his career was spent in an 18-year run at Fox. In those later years, he shared power with Jim Gianopulos and he was known as being a hands-on presence in production and budgets. The studio let him go last January. Rothman, who developed a relationship with Steven Spielberg when they tried to make Harvey at Fox, briefly got involved as producer of Robopocalypse, until Spielberg shelved the film. Even though Rothman was ready to moonlight as producer, it seemed clear that what he wanted was an executive gig. Now he has a good one and there are not many executives around with more experience than he has.

“Tom is a rare executive who loves movies, loves filmmakers, understands how to make money and has exquisite taste,” Pascal said in a statement. “He has the perfect programming sensibility to add to our slate mix and it will be a thrill to have him as part of our team.”

Said Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko: “Sony Pictures Television is in business with the best in the business and we couldn’t be more excited to have Tom join our family.”

In a statement, Rothman noted how he and Pascal had worked together on the Columbia Pictures lot under the late Dawn Steel in the late 1980s. “I admired [Pascal] hugely then and I admire her more now — she has a truly exceptional film mind. I have known and respected Michael just as long. Together they run a superb company, loaded with outstanding executives at every level, including Steve Mosko, with whom I share a special heritage.”

Rothman joins at a time when Sony Pictures has been under public scrutiny from hedge fund chief Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point LLC has acquired a 7% stake in the company. Loeb has been critical of summer misfires After Earth and White House Down, and has called for the entertainment division to be spun off.

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