Exec named president of movie production

Alli Shearmur is joining Lionsgate as president of motion picture production and will head a new production wing as the company continues to expand.

The appointment, which has been expected for several weeks, was announced Tuesday by Joe Drake, co-chief operating officer and president of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

Shearmur ankled Paramount early last year after a two-year run as co-prexy of production.

Shearmur’s appointment is aimed at positioning Lionsgate as a broader player in Hollywood, widening its activity beyond its signature “Saw” and Tyler Perry franchises and comicbook-based fare such as “The Spirit.” She and Mike Paseornek — who continues to carry the same president of production title — will operate as heads of separate production divisions, with each responsible for six to eight films per year.

The announcement comes with Lionsgate notably active on the releasing front, with four pics opening in the next four weekends — spoof “Disaster Movie,” thriller remake “Bangkok Dangerous,” Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys” and romantic comedy “My Best Friend’s Girl” — followed by Bill Maher’s docu “Religulous,” Oliver Stone’s “W” and “Saw V” in October.

Shearmur’s expected to develop mainstream fare by drawing upon her filmmaker and talent relationships. In the announcement, Lionsgate noted that her background includes oversight of “Zodiac” and “Dreamgirls” at Paramount; “Erin Brockovich” and the “American Pie” and “Bourne” franchises at Universal; and “George of the Jungle” at Disney.

She’s currently producing director Doug Liman’s untitled DreamWorks actioner that stars Jake Gyllenhaal.

She told Daily Variety that she was attracted by Lionsgate’s agility and momentum.

Paseornek will continue to head the production of genre films such as “My Bloody Valentine 3-D,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” comicbook-based fare like “The Spirit,” along with the Tyler Perry and “Crank” franchises.

VPs Jim Miller and Wolfgang Hammer will report to Shearmur, while Paseornek will oversee senior VP John Sacchi and exec VP Lisa Ellzey. Shearmur and Paseornek both report to Drake.

Lionsgate has been ramping up film operations since hiring former Mandate topper Drake as co-chief operating officer and president of its motion picture group a year ago. His tenure’s included hiring former MRC exec Hammer and Scott Free president Ellzey last month along with the ankling of Peter Block from his longtime slot as prexy of acquisitions and co-productions.

Lionsgate has also been expanding in new media. It’s partnered on the Fearnet channel with Sony and Comcast and recently pacted with YouTube to make excerpts from several hundred of its film and TV productions available on a branded YouTube channel.

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