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Sony Taps Nicole Seligman To Be Entertainment President

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 8:29am PDT

sony_logo__121101084843-200x133__130207090832__130530213852__131031103916This the latest promotion for Nicole Seligman, who has become a formidable behind-the-scenes force at Sony since she was recruited by former CEO Howard Stringer to be the company’s general counsel after she repped Oliver North in the Iran-Contra hearings and President Bill Clinton when he was impeached. In her new position she’ll directly oversee important functions at the company’s movie and music properties, reporting to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. She’ll continue to report to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai in her new role as Senior Legal Counsel and as she keeps her corporate duties as President, Sony Corporation of America and as a member of Sony’s Group Executive Committee.

The company says that in her new role at Entertainment she will “develop overall strategy and growth opportunities, identify and implement efficiencies within and among [Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and the Sony/ATV Music Publishing joint venture] and expand the businesses’ combined global footprint and influence.” She’ll directly oversee finance, human resources, legal and corporate communications. “I sought out Nicole for this role and am thrilled to work with her to explore new ways to leverage Sony Entertainment’s business and creative assets into new opportunities for profitability and growth,” said Lynton.

Sony vowed to streamline the entertainment operation last year after it rejected a proposal by hedge fund owner Daniel Loeb to spin off a minority stake in the businesses. (Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.) Late last year Sony hired Bain Read More »

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Sony CEO: Entertainment Is “Crucial” To Company

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 8:17am PST

CEO Kazuo Hirai just gave his movie, TV, and music enterprises a strong endorsement as he kicked off the company’s long-awaited investor briefing about the businesses. “I know that the whole of Sony is greater than the sum of its parts,” he says calling entertainment “a core part of Sony” that is “crucial to our future growth.” He says Sony has had 89 No. 1 movies since 2000, 38 TV series produced in the U.S. this year, 1,500 music artists, and is the No. 1 music publisher. But the picture segment generated a loss in the most recent quarter, and “some movies just didn’t perform as we had estimated” adding that the operation “must get better.”  He said that the unit will become more profitable and will revamp the process of greenlighting films. Strategic priorities for entertainment include investing in “fast growing and high margin businesses,” building existing libraries, creating “compelling new franchises,” accelerating collaboration across all of Sony’s businesses, and “rigorous cost management.” Today’s meeting follows up on a promise that Hirai made to Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb: After rejecting the hedge fund owner’s proposal to create a new stock for entertainment and sell a minority stake to the public, Hirai said that he would ”increase disclosure regarding Sony’s entertainment businesses. We agree this can help market participants analyze their performance and monitor their success.” Loeb stung the company over the summer, charging that Sony “has plenty Read More »

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Sony Hires Consultant To Find $100M In Cost Cuts In Entertainment Unit: Report

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 2:33pm PST

The movie, TV and music operation plans to tell investors on Thursday that it has hired Bain & Co to find ways to cut $100M, a sum that “would almost assuredly result in layoffs,” The New York Times reports citing unnamed sources. “As part of a nearly four year process of increasing fiscal discipline, Sony Pictures is conducting a review of its business to identify further efficiencies,” says Sony Entertainment‘s Charles Sipkins. “Our objective is, and always has been, to operate an efficient studio that is uniquely positioned to capitalize on future growth opportunities.” Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton will lead the Culver City meeting this week, a follow-up to a promise that CEO Kazuo Hirai made in August to Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb: After rejecting the hedge fund owner’s proposal to create a new stock for entertainment and sell a minority stake to the public, Hirai said that he would ”increase disclosure regarding Sony’s entertainment businesses. We agree this can help market participants analyze their performance and monitor their success.” Loeb stung the company over the summer, charging that Sony “has plenty of reasons to worry about Entertainment,” which he said generated lower profit margins than its competitors. George Clooney came to Sony’s defense in a conversation with my colleague Mike Fleming Jr, calling Loeb a “carpetbagger.” Hirai said that the board “unanimously concluded that continuing to own 100% of our entertainment business is the best path … Read More »

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Daniel Loeb Says He And George Clooney Want Same Things For Sony

The CEO of Third Point says that George Clooney was “a little hyperbolic” in August when the actor — in an interview with my colleague Mike Fleming Jr – defended Sony Entertainment execs from the hedge fund manager’s attacks. Daniel Loeb just told The New York Times’ DealBook’s Opportunities for Tomorrow Conference that Clooney “misinterpreted” the effort to persuade Sony to divest a minority stake in its movie, TV and music properties: He and Clooney want the same thing, Loeb says, “less spending on overhead and more on films.” Indeed, Loeb says, “I’d love to meet [Clooney] some time and talk these things over.” Sony rejected the investor’s stock sale proposal, but he says that he’s satisfied with the outcome of his campaign. “The reason we wanted the spin off is because we wanted transparency” — which he expects to see later this month when Sony Entertainment execs plan to meet with investors. “I see that as a great outcome for us.” Loeb also says he has “a good relationship” with Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai, who he has met twice including at a breakfast a few weeks ago. Loeb’s much friendlier than he was in July when he attacked the studio saying that its summer films After Earth and White House Down had “bombed spectacularly.” He added that they were “2013′s versions of Waterworld and Ishtar” and that it was “perplexing” that the company gave … Read More »

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Sony Plans Investor Meeting To Discuss Entertainment Businesses

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 2:43pm PDT

The company is telling analysts and investors to hold November 21 for a “Sony Entertainment Investor Day” to be held at the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot in Culver City. No word on why — or who’ll be there. But this appears to be a follow up to a promise that CEO Kazuo Hirai made last month to Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb: After rejecting the hedge fund owner’s proposal to create a new stock for entertainment and sell a minority stake to the public, Hirai said that he would ”increase disclosure regarding Sony’s entertainment businesses. We agree this can help market participants analyze their performance and monitor their success.” Loeb stung the company over the summer, charging that Sony “has plenty of reasons to worry about Entertainment”, which he said generated lower profit margins than its competitors. George Clooney came to Sony’s defense in a conversation with my colleague Mike Fleming Jr., calling Loeb a “carpetbagger”. Hirai said that the board “unanimously concluded that continuing to own 100% of our entertainment business is the best path forward and is integral to Sony’s strategy.” Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.

Related: Daniel Loeb In Retreat: Backs Off Sony, Praises Read More »

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Sony’s Michael Lynton Joins Board At USC School Of Cinematic Arts

By | Wednesday August 28, 2013 @ 10:17am PDT

Michael Lynton is the latest high-profile Hollywood name to join up with the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The CEO of Sony Entertainment has been appointed to the school’s Board Of Councilors, which deal with planning and development and maybe most importantly fundraising efforts. Lynton, who went to Harvard, joins board members including chairman Frank Price, Frank Biondi Jr, Barry Diller, Lee Gabler, David Geffen, Brian Grazer, Brad Grey, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Alan Levine, George Lucas, Don Mattrick, Bill M. Mechanic, Barry Meyer, Sidney Poitier, John Riccitiello, Barney Rosenzweig, Scott Sassa, Steven Spielberg, John Wells, Jim Wiatt, Paul Junger Witt, and Robert Zemeckis. Said Price in a statement today: “The Board of Councilors works in the interest of SCA’s students, who will be the future leaders of our industry. Michael is actively working on laying the groundwork for that future, and he will use his expertise to support the students and inspire their future contributions.” In February, 20th Century Fox Film Chairman Jim Gianopulos also joined the Board, and that same month Bryan Singer donated $5 million, and a gala reception for the opening of the Sumner M. Redstone Production Building drew big industry names including Lucas, Spielberg, Grey and Les Moonves.

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