Studio's homevid arm to to take over distrib'n

USA Home Entertainment is being dissolved as a result of Vivendi Universal’s $10.3 billion acquisition of USA Networks in December, USA and Universal executives confirmed Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Universal Studios confirmed that the company’s homevideo arm would begin distributing USA Films’ titles beginning with the release of seven-time Oscar nominee “Gosford Park.” The spokesperson couldn’t confirm that the title would be released on May 28, as USA has announced.

A USA Networks spokesperson added that about 20 staffers of New York-based USA Home Entertainment were informed Tuesday that they will be laid off, with others being folded into the Universal operation based in Los Angeles.

Universal doesn’t expect any layoffs in its home video department.

The spokesperson would not comment on the fate of Joe Amodei, president of USA Home Entertainment. However, a source close to the company said Amodei is weighing options to work with Universal Studios Home Video.

“A lot of stuff is still up in the air,” a USA Home Entertainment source added.

Also unclear was how distribution of USA’s sports properties will be dealt with. Before Tuesday’s announcement, USA officials were in talks with the NFL to renew its deal. The company also has agreements with the NBA and NHL.

Like Amodei, the fate of VP Sal Scamardo, the point man for the company’s sports deals, was undecided.

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