IFilm taps ‘Net vets Wendle & Sylvester

Shuffle makes Paul chairman

In the midst of moving to Los Angeles, San Francisco-based Netcaster IFilm said Wednesday that it has restructured its top management ranks, tapping Internet vet Kevin Wendle CEO and E! Online co-founder Doug Sylvester prexy and chief operating officer.

Skip Paul, who joined the Netcaster last year after leaving Sega GameWorks, which he co-founded, will now serve as chairman of the dot-com that broadcasts shorts online on IFilm.com and provides interactive tools to filmmakers through spinoff IFilmpro.com.

Company is trying to expand its business tools through more acquisitions and increase traffic to its Web site, which currently attracts 1 million hits a month. With Wendle on board, site is likely to be marching toward an IPO.

Recently backed by $35 million from Sony, Kodak, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures, Shamrock Capital and Liberty Digital, company aims to become “the ultimate destination for film fans, filmmakers and industry professionals.” One way is by moving its entire staff of 50 to a converted facility in Los Angeles, skedded to open its doors March 15.

Netcaster AtomFilms is also ramping up its L.A. presence, opening up offices in the Hollywood area sometime soon. IFilm’s staff of 50 will move to a converted 30,000 square foot facility in Hollywood on March 15.

“Los Angeles is the right place to be because the film industry is there,” Wendle said. “L.A. is where the bodies are to make deals.”

A widely respected ‘Net exec, Wendle, who co-founded CNET, Fox Broadcasting Co. and E! Online, was one of IFilm’s first investors and remains the company’s largest shareholder.

“As IFilm’s first investor, Kevin Wendle has been actively involved in the vision, development and management of this business since day one,” Paul said.

But observers were uncertain whether Wendle would join the ranks of a dot-com again.

“This has been evolutionary for me,” he told Daily Variety. “As IFilm’s developed, it’s been more and more exciting. Building IFilm became the most exciting thing I was doing.”

Wendle and Sylvester are leaving their posts at the Cottage Group, an investment firm Wendle formed last year to help fund Internet startups, including Iwin.com and StudioXchange. The duo will continue to advise the Cottage Group and its affiliated companies but will work full-time for IFilm.

Sylvester will join Paul and Wendle on IFilm’s board of directors.

Sylvester created and managed the new business development and corporate planning departments at E! before being named general manager of E! Online. Before that, Sylvester worked at New Line Cinema, coordinating all West Coast business development.

“Doug Sylvester’s proven experience successfully launching and managing E! Online, the Internet’s leading entertainment destination, delivers the critical strategic and operational skills necessary for us to succeed in this space,” Paul said.

IFilm also disclosed its board of advisers and investors Wednesday, which include GeoCities founder David Bohnett, ICM chairman Jeff Berg, UTA chairman Jim Berkus, former Warner Bros. CEO Bob Daly, scribe Nora Ephron, former Warner Bros. co-prexy Bill Gerber, producers Lauren Schuler-Donner, Quincy Jones, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, helmer Richard Donner, Brillstein-Grey CEO Brad Grey, VH1 prexy John Sykes, attorney Alan Hergott and L.A. Avengers owner Casey Wasserman.

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