Warner Bros. music chief Gary LeMel has been upped to worldwide prexy of the studio’s music arm, according to insiders.
LeMel also becomes CEO of Warner-Sunset Records, the soundtrack label bowed as an outlet for tunes placed into WB films by LeMel’s team. He was previously the label’s prexy.
According to insiders, LeMel recently inked a new multiyear, multimillion-dollar pact with the studio — one which will keep the industry vet at the studio well into the next century.
LeMel’s deal with the studio to produce music-driven pics, such as last year’s “Why Do Fools Fall in Love: The Frankie Lymon Story,” was also extended. He has several films in various stages of development.
Under LeMel’s guidance, the studio has earned widespread industry kudos for its groundbreaking use of music in films since the early ’80s. WB’s strategy has since been emulated by other studios.
Warner-Sunset is home to record-breaking hit soundtracks to “City of Angels” (the sixth bestselling disc of 1998) and “Space Jam,” both of which have been certified north of 6 million units.
LeMel, who joined the studio in 1986, recently helped steer music into the films “Wild Wild West” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” as well as the upcoming “Three Kings,” starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube, which boasts tracks by U2 and the Beach Boys.
LeMel is also known as an accomplished jazz artist. His recently released Atlantic Records album “Moonlighting,” his first disc in five years, is a tribute to Bobby Darin. It also boasts a perf with Paula Cole on the classic “Call Me Irresponsible.”
Under LeMel, the studio has bowed a number of top soundtracks, including “The Big Chill” and, more recently, “Analyze This” and “The Matrix, which has topped 1 million units.
But the studio’s biggest success story is “The Bodyguard.” The music placed in the film spawned the industry’s top-selling soundtrack at 16 million units, according to the certifications by the Recording Industry Assn. of America.
The impressive number of successful albums — often on record labels outside the Warner family — gave rise over three years ago to the Warner-Sunset label, which gave LeMel and soundtrack vet Danny Bramson a venue for the songs the pair placed in the studio’s films.