Sony Pictures Entertainment announced Tuesday that it has upped Bob Wynne to co-president, in a move designed to give president-chief operating officer John Calley more time to devote to the film biz.
Wynne joins Jeff Sagansky at the co-president level and remains a part of the four-man overall management structure with Calley, Sagansky and exec VP Yuki Nozoe.
The announcement was no surprise, as Wynne has closely assisted in many of Calley’s corporate studio functions for the last six months. But Sony brass were quick to declaim the move as any type of management succession scheme for Calley, who is 67.
“This is not any segue or altering succession,” Calley said. “It is not changing the function of the company. We feel it’s time to basically honor his role and credentialize it.”
Sagansky added: “Now after a year, we’re saying, ‘Hey, look, let’s recognize what everyone’s strengths are.’ Bob’s really been holding the place together on a day-to-day basis.”
Wynne will officially take over daily operations of SPE and will assist Calley in handling corporate studio issues, re-engineering, revamping Sony’s corporate culture and overhauling the global marketing strategies of the company.
Calley, meanwhile, will work more closely with Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group co-vice chair Gareth Wigan, vice chair Lucy Fisher and president Kenneth Lemberger to shore up plans on the film side. Col TriStar has had its best year ever with more than $1.2 billion in grosses, but questions still plague the studio regarding filling its distribution pipeline in 1998 and 1999.
Wynne said: “I don’t think that this implicates John in any different role than the visionary, the leader, the spiritual guide for the motion picture group.”
Calley indicated that he and Lemberger had an overall strategic plan for the film arm, but declined comment to allow Wynne’s promotion to take center stage.
“We have a view of how we’d like to approach it that is not all that revolutionary, but is fairly clear,” Calley said. “We want to supervise and manage that.”
Wynne also will continue oversight of SPE’s financial, legal, risk management, human resources, studio operations and other corporate functions.
Wynne, Sagansky and Nozoe continue to report to Calley.
Wynne was pleased with the recognition by Sony and said: “What I’ll be able to do is … to free up John to devote more time to revitalizing the motion picture group and allow Jeff to focus on the centerpiece of our strategic plan, which is the globalization of the company.”
Wynne — a former partner with the law firm Hill, Wynne, Troop & Meisinger — said of the new Sony corporate structure, “It’s like a law partnership in a sense, where I’m the managing partner and he (Calley) is the senior partner.”
Sagansky will continue to handle TV, international initiatives and strategic planning.
Nozoe will continue in his present slot, overseeing SPE’s Digital Studios Division, corporate and governmental relations, external affairs and as a liaison to Tokyo headquarters.
Wynne joined SPE as a corporate exec veep in November 1995. He helped head Sony’s new management team with Nozoe and was named a senior exec VP in January. Before joining Sony, he repped the studio as primary outside counsel on major corporate, financing and strategic transactions.
Since the late 1970s, he has repped Sony and its predecessor companies.