MGM names Ken Schapiro COO

Exec is co-founder of Qualia Capital LLC

MGM continues to revamp itself, tapping veteran film exec and investor Ken Schapiro as chief operating officer.

Schapiro is co-founder and a managing principal of Qualia Capital, which he launched in 2003 with Amir Malin with an emphasis on intellectual property asset portfolios. From 1998-2003 he served as prexy-chief operating officer at Artisan Entertainment, which tripled the size of its film library during his stint to more than 6,000 titles. He also did a stint as an exec VP for Morgan Creek during which he oversaw production, financing and distribution of more than 30 titles including “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and the “Ace Ventura” films.

The Lion made the announcement Monday, a dozen days after Jonathan Glickman was appointed as prexy of its motion picture group.

“Ken’s background, experience and proven track record make him an undeniable asset to MGM,” said MGM toppers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum in a statement. “We believe his skills and energy will be integral in helping us build the new MGM.”

MGM put itself up for sale in August 2009, and Qualia was identified subsequently as a possible investor, proposing a restructuring that would have kept the legendary studio out of bankruptcy via a cash infusion. The Lion filed for a pre-packaged bankruptcy filing three months ago, wiping out more than $4 billion in debt and leading to a $500 million cash infusion arranged through JPMorgan.

“While it is difficult to leave the business I co-founded with my partner Amir Malin, returning to an operating role to work with Gary and Roger at the new MGM from this early stage is too exciting a challenge to pass up,” Schapiro said.

On Friday, MGM promoted John Bryan to president of domestic television distribution.

Key decision facing MGM is whether to go with Sony in a deal for MGM’s distribution duties — including for the 23rd James Bond pic, set to go into production later this year. Sony emerged last week as the leading contender with Paramount, Warner Bros. and Fox all out of the running.

MGM struck a deal with Warners last month on the two “Hobbit” films, with Warners assuming MGM’s share of producing costs — between $265 million and $275 million, according to the MGM bankruptcy filing — in exchange for taking over the international distribution and home­vid on the films from MGM.

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