Studio Babelsberg fires MD

Vivendi Deutschland's Potok takes control

BERLIN — Studio Babelsberg topper Gabriela Bacher has been dismissed — after just one year on the job.

In unusually blunt terms, Thierry Potok, head of Babelsberg parent Vivendi Deutschland, announced Wednesday that “the mutual trust for further cooperation has been destroyed.”

Bacher’s sacking came as a surprise to the studio, which has been plagued by managerial difficulties since it was bought in 1992 by French conglom Compagnie Generale des Eaux (before it was known as Vivendi).

The studio has suffered major setbacks over the past year, including the loss of Richard Donner’s sci-fi fantasy pic “Timeline,” which was set to shoot at Babelsberg in fall 2001 but opted for Montreal in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.

Neighborly attraction

Cheaper facilities at Barrandov Film Studio and Prague Studio in the neighboring Czech Republic con-tinue to woo work away from the 90-year-old Studio Babelsberg.

Bacher also took a hit after announcing a deal at Cannes in May partially to finance Neil Jordan’s “Borgia,” only to see its fate put into question after Myriad Pictures bailed out of the project.

Potok is taking over control of Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures. Production execs Henning Molfenter, Udo Happel and Dirk Wilutzky will remain at the company, as will Gerhard Bergfried, who heads the studio’s service arm.

Bacher came to Babelsberg in September 2001 to replace Rainer Schaper, who had died in March. The Vienna-born Bacher retains her Los Angeles-based Primary Pictures shingle and is developing a pic about Teutonic helmer and Third Reich propagandist Leni Riefenstahl with Jodie Foster.

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