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Mutual Film taps Pickering

She'll head foreign sales and distrib'n of Int'l div.

Mutual Film Co. has appointed Pamela Pickering to head its foreign sales and distribution arm, Mutual Film Intl., the Paramount-based indie announced Friday.

Pickering, a former senior vice president of international distribution at Spelling Films, effectively replaces Mutual chief operating officer Robert Lazarus, who at the end of February said he would segue into a consulting role with the company.

As with Lazarus, Pickering will report to Mutual’s two principals and partners, Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn. According to the company, she will be responsible for the “day-to-day operations” of the sales division, as well as “identifying new opportunities” for the parent company.

MFI is handling international distribution of a package of four pictures from Universal (“Primary Colors,” “The Jackal,” “Virus” and “Black Dog”) and one from Paramount (“A Simple Plan”).

Kevin Hooks’ actioner “Black Dog,” which stars Patrick Swayze, opened in the U.S. over the weekend with an estimated $4.6 million.

Gordon and Levinsohn also produced kidpic “Paulie” for DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” for DreamWorks/Paramount. MFI is not involved in the distribution of those pics.

Forthcoming Mutual releases are the John Boorman-directed “Plan,” which stars Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton, and the sci-fi thriller “Virus,” which stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland.

Pickering is Mutual’s second consecutive Spelling hire, following the appointment of Spelling sales exec Mark Lindsay as MFI’s vice president of distribution at the beginning of April. The Spelling crowd became available following the closure of Spelling Films earlier this year.

Mutual is a partnership with four overseas entertainment entities (Germany’s Telemunchen, U.K.’s BBC, France’s UGC and Japan’s Toho Towa/Marubeni), which each receive distribution rights in their territories for MFI’s slate and an equity stake in its pics on a worldwide basis.

In February, Mutual reupped its first-look deal with Paramount through 2001. Titles in development include the comedy “Guam Goes to the Moon,” with Bill Pullman attached to star.

Prior to joining Spelling, Pickering headed the international divisions at Republic Pictures and Sugar Entertainment. She also has worked for Skouras Pictures, Manson Intl. and the Samuel Goldwyn Co.