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Col thinning ranks of exex

Move follows pinkslipping of three story editors

After Columbia Pictures ceded almost half its motion picture production to Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios, executive cutbacks at the top-heavy studio seemed inevitable. They have arrived.

Col chairman Amy Pascal notified senior veepee of production Lori Furie that her contract would not be renewed when it expires this summer.

The move was presaged by the pinkslipping of three Col story editors last week, and it may augur still more departures. Insiders at the studio say that executive veepee of production Michael Costigan may soon ankle the studio.

“I’m working with Lori to find ways that will allow her to continue working with us and be closer to the filmmaking process,” Pascal said in a statement.

It’s unclear just what new role that might be, but a lot-based producing deal may be once such possibility. If so, it would not be without recent precedent, as the first-look producing deal has long been the golden basket into which studio executive heads roll: That was how it went for Col senior veepee of production Ricky Strauss, who had joined the Col production team in 1997 from the studio’s marketing department. But when the attempt at reverse-engineering movies didn’t work as planned, Strauss ankled for a production deal in July 2000 — a pact reached only a month after his sacking.

While at Col, Furie supervised the production of such pics as “Cruel Intentions” and “Stuart Little” and is likewise supervising latter’s sequel and the Sarah Jessica Parker starrer “Life Without Dick.”

Calls to Costigan were not returned.

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