Doctorow plays along with THQ

Par Home Ent. prexy ankles for vidgame publisher

WASHINGTON — Eric Doctorow, longtime president of Paramount Home Entertainment who left in January, has been named chief operating officer of videogame publisher THQ.

Doctorow joined Paramount Pictures in 1983 and became head of the home entertainment division in 1994.

Calabasas Hills-based THQ is one of the leading independent vidgame publishers in the U.S. In its second quarter, ended Sept. 30, revs jumped 30% to $127 million, the company reported Monday. Due to higher costs and delays in releasing some games, net income slipped 25% to $3.6 million, which included a $2.5 million insurance settlement.

Doctorow will oversee all of THQ’s worldwide game publishing operations as well as the company’s new division, THQ Wireless, set up to deliver games and other material to cell phones over wireless Internet connections.

“Eric’s extensive experience and relationships in the entertainment industry will lend a valuable perspective to our business as we prepare for continued growth,” CEO Brian Farrell said in a statement.

THQ franchises include “Finding Nemo,” “Red Faction,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Sonic the Hedgehog,” titles from World Wrestling Entertainment and a strong lineup for Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy Advance.

Last week, THQ released “Tak: The Power of Juju,” the first release under a game-first agreement with Par sister company Nickelodeon to create intellectual properties for initial videogame release with the intent of migrating those properties to TV and other media.

Similar scene

Doctorow said Monday that he sees similarities between the video and the game businesses.

“In many cases the customers are identical, and many of the marketing and promotional issues are similar,” he said. “They’re both product-driven businesses where marketing and promotion play critical roles.”

Doctorow’s hiring was part of a broader management shuffle at the company. Tim Walsh, formerly senior veepee of international publishing for THQ, was named president of THQ Wireless, reporting to Doctorow.

Separately, chief financial officer Fred Gysi announced he will step down. He’ll stay on board until a replacement is found.

Third-quarter earnings and news of Doctorow’s arrival were announced after the market closed Monday. In regular trading, shares rose 1.7% to $18.08, well off the company’s 52-week high of $24.20.

(Paul Sweeting is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business. Ben Fritz in Hollywood contributed to this report. )

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