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Jones leads exec pack exodus from Cinesite

Ed Jones, who had served as visual effects supervisor of “Space Jam,” left his post as president of Eastman Kodak’s Cinesite subsidiary on Friday. Four other high-level Cinesite staffers also left.

Jones joined Kodak in 1991 from Industrial Light & Magic. He was Cinesite’s first hire.

Kodak said Friday that Aidan Foley, who has been VP and general manager of the company’s digital motion imaging division, will replace Jones as Cinesite president.

Leaving with Jones were Sharon Berlin, director of human resources; Warren Franklin, chief operating officer; Mitzi Gallagher, VP of production; and Terry Thurlow, chief financial officer.

Neither Jones nor any of the others could be reached for comment over the weekend, but effects industry sources speculate that Jones plans to form his own company, and the others will join him. It’s expected that staffers from other effects houses will soon sign on with Jones.

“Ed did a great job on ‘Space Jam,’ but he’s been saying for a long time that he didn’t want to stay at a place where he wasn’t the overall boss,” a source said.

Colleagues on “Space Jam” said Jones was discussing forming his own company while the film was still in principal photography. One crew member recalled Jones handing out baseball caps emblazoned with a logo that read Thunder Bay, prompting speculation that he had chosen a moniker for his soon-to-be-launched firm.

“Kodak should bow down and thank Ed for what he did for them,” said another industry exec. “He did a tremendous job, but I think he felt he wasn’t getting enough direction from the company. (Kodak CEO) George Fisher is too far removed from Cinesite, which is a shame, because he should be given more direction as Kodak tries to grow in the entertainment field.”

Effects industry execs said the defections are a blow to Cinesite, at least in the short term. A Kodak spokesman, however, said the only major project inhouse is “The Flood” for director Mikael Salomon, giving the company a little breathing room to bring in a new team.

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