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Fox fights vid exec’s defection

Fox Filmed Entertainment said it filed a request for a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court to prevent the head of its homevid operation from taking a job with Hollywood Entertainment Corp., a retail homevideo company based in Portland, Ore.

Hollywood Entertainment, which operates the 661-store Hollywood Video chain, Monday said it appointed Jeffrey B. Yapp, worldwide president of Fox Filmed Entertainment’s 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, to the newly created position of president. Hollywood Entertainment said Yapp, 38, will report to Mark J. Wattles, chairman and chief executive of the company.

Hollywood Entertainment’s hiring of Yapp occurs at an inopportune time for Fox.

The studio is releasing its first direct-to-video movie, a $10 million-budgeted animated feature titled “Casper: A Spirited Beginning,” produced in association with Saban Entertainment. The studio had pledged a $30 million marketing campaign for the video, and Saban officials are expecting the homevideo to sell about 10 million units, yielding more than $100 million in retail sales.

Fox said it would not release Yapp from his contract. “Mr. Yapp is under exclusive contract with Fox through Oct. 16, 1999,” said a spokeswoman for the studio. “We have filed suit and will vigorously enforce our rights. The matter is now in the hands of the court.”

Yapp did not return phone calls to his office. A spokesman for Hollywood Entertainment couldn’t be reached for comment.

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