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Silver adds homevid duties at Universal

Casey Silver, who has been with Universal for nine years and has served as chairman of the motion picture group since 1994, has been given oversight of U’s homevideo wing.

Louis Feola, president of U’s homevideo division, now reports to Silver. Homevideo had reported to exec VP Sandy Climan, who recently shifted his responsibilities to concentrate more on the company’s international business.

The move puts Universal in step with other studios and seems to be a boost of confidence for Silver, whose future was uncertain before the release of the $116 million-budgeted “Dante’s Peak.” The disaster pic has grossed $52.3 million to date domestically. With the added responsibilities, Silver’s title will not change and he continues under his old contract.

“Homevideo is a very lucrative business for us, and the marketplace is expanding for direct-to-video titles. We’ve had a successful run in (direct-to-video) titles, and hopefully we can continue it,” Silver said. “This is an effective product line approach to management, because the feature film division drives the homevideo product.”

Other studios have been working under a similar structure for years. Paramount has had a vice chairman post — now occupied by Rob Friedman — who oversees feature film acquisition, marketing, distribution and homevideo. Disney gave Joe Roth the responsibility over homevideo when he was made chairman of Walt Disney Studios. At Fox Filmed Entertainment, chairman and CEO Bill Mechanic oversees features and homevideo. And at Warner Bros., homevideo reports to studio chairmen and co-CEOs Bob Daly and Terry Semel.

In making the announcement, Universal Studios president and chief operating officer Ron Meyer noted: “Corporately aligning homevideo under motion pictures is a natural fit that allows us to streamline and strengthen our overall feature operation. Casey has done a great job reinvigorating our motion picture division, and I’m confident that he will continue to bring the same strength of leadership and vision to our home- video business.”

Silver will continue to manage the motion picture group’s domestic and international businesses, including UIP and UCI.

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