Vet Finkelstein is named Universal Pictures prexy

Exec to oversee o'seas biz affairs

Rick Finkelstein has been upped to president of Universal Pictures, studio chairman Stacey Snider announced Tuesday.

Finkelstein will report directly to Snider, who was named sole chair earlier this month following the announced departure of co-chair Brian Mulligan to U parent Seagram as its chief financial officer.

Finkelstein, who has served as senior vice president of corporate development and strategic planning, will take on many of the financial oversight duties once handled by Mulligan. Snider will continue to oversee feature production, international marketing and distribution, an area she shared with Mulligan until recently, as well as human resources and finance.

Kevin Misher continues to serve as president of production for U, a post to which he was promoted in August.

In his new post, Finkelstein will essentially act as U’s chief dealmaker, assuming management responsibilities for the company’s worldwide business operations. He will oversee business and legal affairs, strategic planning and home video.

He will also manage Universal’s interest in United Intl. Pictures (UIP), UCI and CIC, and assist with the transition of Universal Pictures Intl.’s theatrical distribution operation into UIP.

Vet exec

“Rick is a seasoned executive who has displayed diverse business talents in his tenure at Polygram and here at Universal. He is an excellent negotiator and dealmaker with a vast understanding of the international marketplace,” said Snider in making Tuesday’s announcement.

Finkelstein has been with Universal since March, when he was tapped as senior VP, corporate development and strategic planning. During his short tenure with the studio, Finkelstein helped engineer U’s sale of Propaganda Films’ commercials, musicvideo and talent management businesses to former Sundance Group prexy Garry Beer.

Before joining U, Finkelstein served as exec VP for Polygram Filmed Entertainment, where he oversaw business and legal affairs for the music and post-production departments.

Finkelstein had been one of two PFE execs charged with the integration of their company into U (the other being former PFE president Stewart Till) after U’s acquisition of Polygram Holdings and PFE in 1998.

Finkelstein’s appointment comes at a time when Universal has broken its all-time domestic and international box office records, as a result of moneymakers such as “The Mummy,” which has grossed more than $403 million worldwide, and “Notting Hill,” which has rung up $350 million worldwide.

(Christian Moerk contributed to this report.)