Sperry, Garzilli tapped to top Canal Plus U.S.

Exex to oversee pic co-prods, acquisitions

In keeping with plans to boost its presence in Hollywood, French media conglom Canal Plus has tapped Stephane Sperry and Richard Garzilli for the newly created posts of co-presidents of Canal Plus U.S.

The appointments underscore the Gallic company’s commitment to film acquisition and co-production Stateside as a key part of its effort to become a major European studio.

The two execs will report directly to Vincent Grimond, Paris-based senior executive VP of Canal Plus Image, the film production and distribution affiliate of the parent company.

Sperry and Garzilli will together oversee the expanded operations of Canal Plus U.S. in the field of film co-productions and acquisitions. Sperry will act as the key creative executive vis-a-vis Hollywood, while Garzilli will have front-line responsibility for finance, business and legal affairs, and administration for all of the subsidiary’s operations.

“Having Richard and Stephane join Canal Plus U.S. reflects very concretely our commitment to strengthening and expanding the management of our U.S. operations in the areas of film acquisitions and co-productions,” Grimond said. “Both executives bring to the U.S. operation years of experience in film finance, acquisitions and distribution.”

Sperry, senior VP acquisition and development for Canal Plus Image since 1996, has been responsible for shepherding deals with Mandalay, Bel Air, Working Title and Spyglass.

Sperry joined Canal Plus in 1987 to set up Ellipse, now Canal Plus Image’s TV production arm. He served as president of distribution for Canada’s Alliance Intl., which he joined in 1990. Sperry rejoined Canal Plus in 1994 as director of acquisitions for Canal Plus Image.

Prior to joining Canal Plus U.S., Garzilli was a partner of the international law firm Coudert Brothers, where he worked primarily for Canal Plus Image in the areas of film finance, acquisitions and distribution.

Garzilli spearheaded negotiations for Canal Plus Image for transactions such as the Carolco library acquisition and, most recently, the joint-venture investments in Steven Reuther’s Bel Air Entertainment and Universal’s Working Title Films. A 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, Garzilli began his career in Hollywood at Twentieth Century Fox.