Mitch Goldman, one of New Line’s most senior executives, has abruptly ankled his post as president of marketing and distribution for the Time Warner-owned minimajor.
At the same time, the company has promoted Robert Friedman and Rolf Mittweg to co-chairmen of worldwide theatrical marketing.
The shakeup, unusual for the normally stable studio, appears to have been prompted by a personality clash between Goldman and New Line chairman Bob Shaye, according to insiders.
Goldman, 51, who created New Line’s inhouse theatrical distribution division after joining the company in 1983, still had a year to go on his contract.
Timing a surprise
While relations between Goldman and Shaye had been strained for some time, insiders said, the timing of the move was particularly surprising, coming as it does on the heels of New Line’s most profitable year ever.
Moreover, New Line has chosen to eliminate Goldman’s position rather than replace him with another heavyweight exec. Goldman was a powerful figure at New Line who strongly influenced not only its marketing and distribution strategy but also the sorts of pics that it produced.
The company’s marketing department will continue to be run by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of theatrical marketing. But Isaacs will now report to Mittweg and Friedman, both of whom will also remain as presidents of their respective divisions, New Line Intl. and New Line Television.
Al Shapiro, president of domestic theatrical distribution, will report directly to Michael Lynne, who is president of New Line Cinema.
No void, says Lynne
While praising Goldman’s achievements, Lynne denied that his departure left a void that the new team would be unable to fill.
“We felt that we had enough skills within to create something that would have financial value,” he said. “Rolf (Mittweg) has been handling all our product in the international market, and Bob (Friedman) comes from an advertising background.”
Lynne said that he didn’t believe Friedman and Mittweg, who will share the chairman title, would compete and become rivals. “Bob (Shaye) and I are a successful duo. There will be a learning curve there, but they represent the right kind of corporate management. They’ll divide responsibilities.”
Mittweg and Friedman’s role will be to oversee marketing, rather than actively supervise it, although the New York-based Friedman will now spend more time in L.A. And Lynne endorsed Boone Isaacs and her team as the key practitioners of New Line’s marketing activities.
In the near future, there may be promotions within the international and TV divisions to take some weight off Mittweg and Friedman’s shoulders in those areas.
On Goldman’s departure, Lynne said that it was a “mutual” decision between Goldman and the company. “No one will ever forget the enormous contribution that he made to our growth and success,” he said.
Goldman said that he would examine new opportunities as they came along. He wouldn’t comment on the setup that had replaced him.
Like Goldman, both Mittweg and Friedman are company veterans. Mittweg founded New Line Intl. in 1988 when it handled two or three films; the division reported sales of $286 million in 1997.
Friedman joined New Line in 1991 as the first prexy of its inhouse TV division. He is now responsible for cable, network and syndicated programming — including numerous feature film spinoffs — licensing and merchandising, and TV deals for New Line’s feature pics.