New division brings on Tobey as COO

CBS has made the first hire for its nascent theatrical film division, bringing on former Paramount exec Bruce Tobey as chief operating officer.

It also announced that the label will be called CBS Feature Films.

A CEO will likely be named in one or two months, insiders said.

Earlier in the week, CBS topper Leslie Moonves said exec hires were imminent as company preps its theatrical film division.

Tobey will be charged with helping to launch the unit and will oversee all financial, legal and business affairs for CBS theatricals.

He will also have a say over hiring, reporting eventually to the CEO when that exec is brought on board.

Division will produce and distribute four to six theatrical films per year, Moonves told investors on Monday, concentrating its efforts in the $10 million-$40 million budget range.

Moonves has said conglom’s desire to enter the theatrical biz is informed by the need to fill Showtime’s pipeline with movies as output deals with Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM expire.

Pics would also be partially financed by output-deal fees from Showtime, a unit of CBS.

Tobey will be based at one of the Eye’s L.A. offices, though which one has not yet been determined, a rep for the company said.

Exec served as Par motion picture group exec veep from 2001-05. During that time he oversaw business, legal and administrative duties for the studio; CBS noted that “he was involved with virtually all key transactions and decisions.”

Tobey ankled Paramount in summer 2005 in the wake of Brad Grey’s sweeping overhaul of the studio.

Former Viacom Entertainment Group prexy Jonathan Dolgen and studio chief Sherry Lansing had created the role for Tobey in which he managed the studio’s complex rights and financing pacts.

His savvy in those departments will likely be called upon as CBS Feature Films looks to undertake projects with a minimum of financial risk.

Since 2005 he has worked as a consultant on a number of film projects. Tobey has also served as exec veep of Viacom Entertainment Group, which included Paramount Television, UPN and Mann Theaters.

Moonves cited Tobey’s “significant operational experience and sophisticated understanding of the entire movie industry.”

Company also said Tobey will run the unit’s homevid distribution line.

Tobey noted in a statement that CBS “has a tremendous opportunity in the film business” and said the division will be “a financially disciplined operation that creates compelling original content.”

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