Tony Vinciquerra Advances as Lead Candidate for Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Post (EXCLUSIVE)

Industry veteran Tony Vinciquerra has advanced through the Sony Pictures Entertainment job search process and is now the lead candidate to succeed Michael Lynton as the top executive at the studio.

Vinciquerra would come to the job with decades of TV experience, albeit little exposure on the film side. Sources said Sony Corp. chief Kazuo Hirai has been looking for a candidate with strong managerial chops and a familiarity with the fast-expanding world of big data and analytics.

Vinciquerra headed Fox Networks Group for a decade before stepping down in early 2011. He’s since worked as a consultant to numerous entertainment firms and private equity group TPG. Through his work as a senior advisor to TPG Capital, Vinciquerra has been involved in Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment startup venture, in which TPG is an investor. He also sits on the board of directors of Univision.

In Sony’s view, Vinciquerra’s background overseeing a big operation like Fox’s cable and international networks during a period of rapid growth, coupled with his more recent experience associated with startups in the tech and media sector give him the right skill set for the job of leading the studio.

Sony’s film division has struggled during the past few years with costly flops and executive transitions. It’s now headed by Tom Rothman, a former colleague of Vinciquerra’s at Fox. The TV side of Sony is prosperous at a time of great demand. But Sony Pictures TV, like every major TV production outfit, is still in the process of sorting out its long-term strategy amid big changes in the global production and distribution landscape.

Sony took a $913 million write-down on the studio division in February, driven by red ink on the theatrical side.

Sony’s job search for a studio CEO began in January when longtime Sony Entertainment chief Lynton announced his resignation. Hirai has spearheaded the search process, flying from Sony’s headquarters in Tokyo to Culver City, California, every few weeks to meet with candidates and review the process. A final decision is expected by mid-May, a source said.

Lynton’s successor will oversee a smaller slice of Sony’s entertainment operations. Lynton had also supervised Sony’s music division, while the job that Vinciquerra is eyed for will be focused on the film and TV studio. It’s understood that Hirai wants Sony’s studio and its PlayStation video-gaming arm to work more closely together in developing properties with crossover potential.

Before joining Fox in 2002, Vinciquerra was chief operating officer of Hearst Television, helping to steer the TV station group. He also worked in a senior TV station post at CBS. He has previously served on the boards of Motorola Mobility, DirecTV, and Qualcomm.

A Sony Pictures spokesman declined to comment. Vinciquerra could not immediately be reached for comment.

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