Slutzky slips Live

Distrib VP claims breach of contract

Elliot Slutzky has ankled his post as exec VP of domestic distribution and marketing for Live Entertainment.

Slutzky, who had been with the company 3-1/2 years, walked out Thursday. The move followed a number of clashes between Slutzky and co-president Amir Malin, according to sources.

Slutzky’s departure comes just three weeks before the Sept. 19 opening of Live’s first self-distributed wide release, the horror film “Wes Craven’s Wishmaster.”

Malin, the former October Films co-president, joined Live in July — along with CEO Mark Curcio and co-president Bill Block — after the company was bought out by an investors group led by Bain Capital.

Slutzky reportedly attempted to negotiate out of his contract almost immediately after Malin arrived. Failing that, he served the company with a notice of breach of contract.

“The Bain investors management team are doing what they want to do regardless of the employees’ rights under their individual contracts and California law,” Slutzky told Daily Variety on Tuesday. “Amir Malin is their choice to handle marketing and distribution, which is in direct contradiction of my contract.”

Slutzky said his employment agreement specifies that anyone in marketing or distribution must report to “me or my designates.” Slutzky also said his contract specified he would report only to Live’s CEO, but that he found himself reporting to Malin.

He wouldn’t comment on his future plans.

Malin was in New York and not available for comment and Curcio said he could not discuss the matter because it was pending.

One source close to the new management team described the dispute as a “management-style issue,” which still might be resolved amicably. But others at the company said there was so much bad blood between Malin and Slutzky the matter could easily end up in court.

The two reportedly disagreed about a number of issues, including the company’s decision to sharply reduce the TV ad budget for its recent reissue of “Dirty Dancing,” as well as the marketing budget for “Wishmaster.”

Slutzky was spared, as were most of Live’s marketing and distribution team, when the company laid off 40 of its 166 staffers Aug. 1 (Daily Variety, Aug. 4).

By all accounts, the ad campaign for “Wishmaster” already is in place, with TV spots to start airing Friday.

Senior VP of domestic theatrical distribution Steve Rothenberg will continue to handle the company’s distribution slate.

David Bowers, who lost his job as head of publicity in the recent reorganization, is handling publicity and promotions on a consulting basis.

Before joining Live in 1994, Slutzky was president of marketing and distribution for Vision Intl. and Stone Group, the joint venture between Epic Prods. and actor-producer Michael Douglas’ Stonebridge Entertainment.

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