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Col poised to up Ganis, Henson

New contract agreements are imminent for Columbia executive vice president Sid Ganis and president of production Lisa Henson, who will likely be promoted to vice chairman and president, respectively, a highly placed source familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, it was confirmed that William C. Soady, TriStar’s president of domestic distribution, would soon be ankling the studio to take the chief exec slot at Showscan Film Corp.

A source who claimed first-hand knowledge of the Ganis and Henson promotions said the agreements with the two executives were finalized over the lastSoady segues to the CEO slot at Showscan, page 30.

two days. Late Wednesday, a Columbia official, who declined to be identified, disputed the report.

Neither Ganis nor Henson could be reached for comment.

Another configuration could place Ganis in the corporate role of vice chairman of the ColumbiaTriStar motion picture companies, while Henson remains as a president at Columbia.

One source familiar with the talks said Colpix could make an announcement as early as today, while a second said an announcement could come within the next 10 days. A Columbia Pictures spokesman had no comment.

The promotions of Ganis and Henson would come two months after former Columbia chairman Mark Canton was elevated to the post of chairman of the Columbia TriStar motion picture companies (Daily Variety, Jan. 10).

Ganis has been at Columbia since March 1992, when he relinquished his duties as Sony Pictures Entertainment executive veepee to take over Colpix marketing and distribution.

It has been widely speculated over the last two months that Ganis is bidding to become involved in a high-level creative capacity on some Columbia movies. However, the Columbia source, who insisted the promotions were not yet official, said Ganis’ involvement in the filmmaking process was the sticking point in final stages of talks.

Ganis was previously involved in greenlighting movies as prexy of Paramount’s motion picture group from 1988-90. He was often interested in developing new talent, including the first Hollywood overture to Italian director Carlo Carlei (“Flight of the Innocent”), who last year got the greenlight on MGM/UA’s “Fluke.”

Henson’s promotion would rank her as one of the fastest-rising execs in the biz, coming just eight months after she took the job as Col’s president of production.

During Henson’s tenure, the former Warner Bros. executive has been involved in such deals as the acquisition of director Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For,” the greenlight of director Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women,” which has Winona Ryder set to star and has been offered toSusan Sarandon, the $ 1.5 million acquisition of the book “The Juror,” and the acquisition of Julie Talen’s spec screenplay “A Tale of Two Brides.”

Culver City conspiracy theorists suggest the recent executive shuffles could be the harbinger of basic structural changes in Sony Pictures Entertainment. In addressing Soady’s departure, one rival head of distribution speculated that Sony Pictures is in the process of folding TriStar and Columbia’s separate distribution mechanisms into one channel.

The rival marketing prexy pointed up that TriStar released only 16 films last year, while Colpix chipped in 19. A single distribution apparatus could handle that volume of product — as evidenced by Warner Bros. and Buena Vista.

A Colpix exec, commenting on Soady’s exit, said there are no plans to combine marketing and distribution at the two Sony units.

Word of the promotions and Soady’s departure follow Tuesday’s formation of a worldwide corporate development group headed by Ken Lemberger, formerly vice chairman of Tristar Pictures and former TriStar chairman Mike Medavoy’s second-in-command.

The corporate development group is staffed with veterans of the studio’s various mergers and acquisitions — many of whom have been with the company since Coca-Cola’s ownership in the 1980s. These execs would know how to spin off a division or tart up the studio for Wall Street. A senior level exec predicted a major telco or cable investment in Sony Pictures within six months.

Approximately one month after Medavoy left TriStar, Sony also underwent a major reorganization on the TV side (Daily Variety, Feb. 15) in which all TV production was consolidated under TriStar TV prexy Jon Feltheimer. Much like TriStar’s Medavoy, Columbia TV president Scott Siegler is reportedly settling out his deal. Since the announcement, those who deal with the twin TV divisions have remained skeptical about the prospects of the two units remaining separate.

On Tuesday, several members of Columbia TV’s business affairs staff were given their walking papers.

With Medavoy removed from the Sony equation and the spectre of film distribution divisions being merged and TV division positions being eliminated, SPE would seem to be cutting costs and in the words of one source on the lot “making everything nice and glossy for Wall Street.”

TriStar motion picture companies, while Henson remains as a president at Columbia.

One source familiar with the talks said Colpix could make an announcement as early as today, while a second said an announcement could come within the next 10 days. A Columbia Pictures spokesman had no comment.

The promotions of Ganis and Henson would come two months after former Columbia chairman Mark Canton was elevated to the post of chairman of the Columbia TriStar motion picture companies (Daily Variety, Jan. 10).

Ganis has been at Columbia since March 1992, when he relinquished his duties as Sony Pictures Entertainment executive veepee to take over Colpix marketing and distribution.

It has been widely speculated over the last two months that Ganis is bidding to become involved in a high-level creative capacity on some Columbia movies. However, the Columbia source, who insisted the promotions were not yet official, said Ganis’ involvement in the filmmaking process was the sticking point in final stages of talks.

Ganis was previously involved in greenlighting movies as prexy of Paramount’s motion picture group from 1988-90. He was often interested in developing new talent, including the first Hollywood overture to Italian director Carlo Carlei (“Flight of the Innocent”), who last year got the greenlight on MGM/UA’s “Fluke.”

Henson’s promotion would rank her as one of the fastest-rising execs in the biz, coming just eight months after she took the job as Col’s president of production.

During Henson’s tenure, the former Warner Bros. executive has been involved in such deals as the acquisition of director Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For,” the greenlight of director Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women,” which has Winona Ryder set to star and has been offered to Susan Sarandon, the $ 1.5 million acquisition of the book “The Juror,” and the acquisition of Julie Talen’s spec screenplay “A Tale of Two Brides.”

Culver City conspiracy theorists suggest the recent executive shuffles could be the harbinger of basic structural changes in Sony Pictures Entertainment. In addressing Soady’s departure, one rival head of distribution speculated that Sony Pictures is in the process of folding TriStar and Columbia’s separate distribution mechanisms into one channel.

The rival marketing prexy pointed up that TriStar released only 16 films last year, while Colpix chipped in 19. A single distribution apparatus could handle that volume of product — as evidenced by Warner Bros. and Buena Vista.

A Colpix exec, commenting on Soady’s exit, said there are no plans to combine marketing and distribution at the two Sony units.

Word of the promotions and Soady’s departure follow Tuesday’s formation of a worldwide corporate development group headed by Ken Lemberger, formerly vice chairman of Tristar Pictures and former TriStar chairman Mike Medavoy’s second-in-command.

The corporate development group is staffed with veterans of the studio’s various mergers and acquisitions — many of whom have been with the company since Coca-Cola’s ownership in the 1980s. These execs would know how to spin off a division or tart up the studio for Wall Street. A senior level exec predicted a major telco or cable investment in Sony Pictures within six months.

Approximately one month after Medavoy left TriStar, Sony also underwent a major reorganization on the TV side (Daily Variety, Feb. 15) in which all TV production was consolidated under TriStar TV prexy Jon Feltheimer. Much like TriStar’s Medavoy, Columbia TV president Scott Siegler is reportedly settling out his deal. Since the announcement, those who deal with the twin TV divisions have remained skeptical about the prospects of the two units remaining separate.

On Tuesday, several members of Columbia TV’s business affairs staff were given their walking papers.

With Medavoy removed from the Sony equation and the spectre of film distribution divisions being merged and TV division positions being eliminated, SPE would seem to be cutting costs and in the words of one source on the lot “making everything nice and glossy for Wall Street.”

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