Sony hikes legal exec veep Berke

Long-time employee promoted to 'sanctum sanctorum' status

Longtime Sony legal eagle Beth Berke has been elevated to corporate executive VP in charge of the studio’s human resources.

With the promotion, Berke, formerly exec VP of SPE’s legal division and the studio’s deputy general counsel, joins the studio’s “sanctum sanctorum,” its senior management policy-generation team, presided over by SPE prexy-chief operating officer John Calley.

Reporting to SPE co-prexy Bob Wynne, newly promoted himself, Berke — who has no direct human resources experience but who has dealt with human resources issues throughout her 15 years’ service with Sony — says efficiency and service to SPE employees will be her watchwords in her new position.

“We are committed to creating a more collegial, team-oriented and performance-driven working environment for all our employees,” Berke said. “To achieve this goal, we are re-examining all aspects of our compen-sation, recruiting, training, benefits, management development diversity and other functions.”

Berke’s mandate is to spearhead SPE’s ongoing re-engineering process, and Wynne, whose purview is corporate operations, is of the opinion that human resources fills that role remarkably well.

“Our human resources division must become a catalyst for corporate change, and Beth is ideally qualified to lead it in this new role,” Wynne said.

Calley also sees HR as the flash-point for engineering redevelopment at the studio. “The SPE employee family is our most important,” he said. “Our commitment to become the best company in the business is in their hands.”

As deputy general counsel, Berke handled corporate and international legal activities for the studio. She was named legal division senior VP in 1990 after having served as senior VP, legal affairs, for both Columbia and TriStar. In that capacity, her focus was on feature film acquisition and produc-tion, and general legal administration for the company’s West Coast activi-ties.

Berke joined Columbia Pictures as a staff attorney in 1982, was promoted to senior counsel the next year and to assistant general counsel in 1985. The following year she was named VP/legal affairs at Columbia and handled much of the studio’s legal work.

Before joining Columbia, Berke was an associate with the Los Angeles law firm of Greenburg, Clusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger.

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