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Paterno out of H’w’d

Hollywood Records president Peter Paterno will leave his position when his contract expires in November, the Walt Disney Co. said late Friday.

Paterno, a prominent music industry attorney at the West Los Angeles firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg and Phillips before spearheading the startup of Hollywood in January 1990, was considered to have been on the hot seat at the company for some time, particularly after a disastrous leak to the media of an internal memo in the spring of 1992.

In that memo, Paterno admitted that Hollywood Records was losing millions of dollars, but savaged his fellow label heads as having experienced the same business circumstances during startups or as a result of the recession. The on-the-record fury from the chastised execs gave Hollywood Records weeks of unwanted attention to its failures.

No reason was given for Paterno’s exit, nor were future plans announced. No replacement was named, but Hollywood executive VP Wes Hein will be the interim executive in charge.

Likely names sure to be floated for the Hollywood helm include Hale Milgrim, former president/CEO of Capitol Records, who was rumored to be in line for an international position at Hollywood last month; and Jeff Ayeroff and Jordan Harris, who recently exited their jobs as co-chairman of Virgin Records North America.

Hollywood has failed to break any new acts in its three-year history and recently began to shuffle its A&R department, adding execs Bob Pfeifer and Nick Terzo as VPs.

The label’s biggest success to date has been with the North American rights to the Queen catalog, which skyrocketed in value after the band’s music was an integral part of Paramount’ hit film “Wayne’s World.”

Its roster also boasts the Dave Clark Five catalog, Ghost of an American Airman, the Brian Setzer Orchestra and Organized Konfusion.

In announcing the departure, Michael Eisner, Disney’s chairman/CEO, said, “While it is customary to say nice things at a time like this, Frank Wells and I want to declare our genuinely deep appreciation to Peter for the excellent job he has done in starting up our record label.”

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