Studios exchange biz exex

Columbia Pictures completed a swap of business affairs executives with Sony Pictures Entertainment on Tuesday, naming Robin Russell as executive veepee of business affairs for the studio.

Russell’s appointment comes one day after stalwart business affairs exec Gary Schrager moved from Colpix to become executive VP of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group. Russell was previously VP of corporate business affairs for Sony Pix.

The appointment places Russell in the top business affairs post at Colpix. She will oversee negotiations on development and production agreements, contracts and other business relationships for the studio.

Incumbent Columbia business affairs senior veepees Darrell Walker and Alan Krieger will report to Russell. The studio is also in the process of filling a junior business affairs post at Colpix, which will likely be filled by an executive at the veepee level.

In a statement, Colpix presi-dent Lisa Henson said Russell is “ideally qualified to help us strike the right balance between establishing and maintaining superb relationships with our creative family and managing our business in a responsible and realistic manner.”

A studio source said Russell’s mandate includes improving the speed and responsiveness of business affairs at Colpix. The studio ranked lowest among the majors in a recent Variety survey of attorneys and agents on response times and talent relationships (Variety, Feb. 7-13).

Russell is a veteran entertainment attorney who returns to the studio side of business affairs after a lengthy absence. Before joining Sony Pictures last year , she was a partner, chief financial officer and head of business affairs for InterTalent Agency — a post she held from October 1990 until the firm’s dissolution in 1992.

From 1983-85, Russell was a senior attorney for Paramount Pictures’ motion picture division — a position she left for a top legal post at Walt Disney Pictures when Michael D. Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Rich Frank defected from Paramount.

At Disney, Russell was senior veepee of business affairs and legal affairs for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures. Her responsibilities included negotiating above-the-line talent deals for live-action and animated Disney and Touchstone product.

“Even though it does feel somewhat like a homecoming moving back into motion picture business affairs, so much has changed in the business these last three years that I am sure it will feel simultaneously familiar, but also a real challenge for me and Columbia Pictures,” Russell said.

At Sony Pictures, Russell was responsible for negotiating and finalizing deals that crossed over from movies and television into Sony’s New Technologies Group — the New York-based unit responsible for new media software and delivery systems (Daily Variety, March 24, 1993).

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