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ICM reps British gov’t in H’wood

Percenter to help push pic policies

LONDON — International Creative Management has a new client: the British government.

ICM has agreed to use its influence in Hollywood to promote the package of new film policies unveiled back in March by U.K. culture secretary Chris Smith.

Jeff Berg, chairman and CEO of ICM, will oversee these efforts in association with Lyndsey Posner, the agency’s London-based head of international operations, and the British Consul General in Los Angeles. ICM will receive no fee for its services.

Smith himself is due to visit Los Angeles in October, when ICM will introduce him to the most senior players in Hollywood.

“Jeff Berg can help the British government access the right people, rather than mid-ranking managers who only have the power to say no,” Posner told Daily Variety.

Berg commented, “Our agency has been doing business in the U.K. for over 25 years, so we have a comprehensive understanding of the political and culture impact of film in this market, not to mention its significant potential for growth.

“Recent events have highlighted the fragility of the U.K. in the global entertainment arena,” he continued. “The British government has demonstrated a true understanding of its potential role in this changing marketplace and the importance of becoming a strong U.K.-based industry.”

In March, the government published the wide-ranging recommendations from its Film Policy Review Group, whose members included leading British film execs and producers.

The centerpiece of the report, titled “The Bigger Picture,” is a proposal for a voluntary levy on the revenues of all U.K. distribs, including the local arms of the Hollywood studios, which would be used to support the development and marketing of British films.

This has proved the report’s most controversial idea, meeting quick resistance from U.K. broadcasters and video companies, who will also be expected to contribute. The Hollywood studios have so far been diplomatically guarded in their response.

The Film Policy Review Group, co-chaired by Polygram Filmed Entertainment’s international president Stewart Till, has now been transformed into an Action Committee charged with putting the whole package of proposals into practice.

A detailed cost-benefit analysis has been commissioned from consultants London Economics, which is expected to demonstrate that the Hollywood studios will gain more from the overall package of policies than they will lose from the levy.

“I am grateful to Jeff Berg and ICM for offering to assist us in presenting our plans at the highest levels in Hollywood,” said Smith. “The Film Industry Review has set out a radical and comprehensive action plan for the future development and growth of the British film industry. The involvement of the major U.S. studios will be vital in turning these plans into reality.”

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