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New Line realigns, lifts Lynne

Exec's move to co-CEO tops changes

New Line Cinema Wednesday upped Michael Lynne to co-chairman and co-CEO, alongside founder Bob Shaye and unveiled a corporate revamp that will have all New Line divisions reporting to three other senior execs.

The move puts Gotham-based Lynne is a greater position to take advantage of his relationships with the creative community, and certainly will enable him to play a more vital and visible role in the company.

Toby Emmerich, who replaced the charismatic former production chief Michael DeLuca amid a whirlwind of change at the studio in late January and early February, will oversee creative content as prexy of New Line Prods. New Line Music and Fine Line will report directly to Emmerich.

Rolf Mittweg was named prexy-chief operating officer of worldwide distribution and marketing, heading up home video, television and business affairs.

And chief financial officer Steve Abramson will oversee finance and accounting, human resources, information technology and New Line’s long-term strategic planning. The three report to Shaye and Lynne.

Empowerment the goal

The idea, Lynne said, “is to begin to empower the other senior executives in another way — where it wasn’t just Bob and me and everyone reporting to me. We felt a certain lack of efficiency.”

New Line also said its five key division chiefs — Fine Line prexy Mark Ordesky, home video prexy Steve Einhorn, theatrical distribution prexy David Tuckerman, senior exec veep of business and legal affairs Ben Zinkin and TV prexy Jim Rosenthal — have signed extended four-year contracts. Rosenthal, formerly head of new media and business development, was recently upped to TV topper when Bob Friedman moved to AOL TV.

The changes, Shaye said, also reflect a “new corporate chapter under AOL Time Warner,” following AOL’s acquisition of Time Warner early this year. The merger has reverberated across the corporate giant’s many divisions. About 100 jobs were cut at New Line in February as part of 2,400 layoffs announced by the parent company in February.

“We’re mining the very valuable veins we have within the company to create franchises,” Lynne said. He hopes to announce soon that the studio is moving ahead with “Mask 2” and the third installment of “Friday.”

Lynne’s background

Prior to being named co-chairman, Lynne had served as prexy and chief operating officer of the studio since 1990. Prior to his appointment as prexy, Lynne was New Line’s outside legal counsel. He has served as a member of the studio’s board of directors since 1983.

Mittweg joined the company in 1988. The architect of New Line International Releasing, Mittweg worked with United Artists during the 1970’s; he held management appointments at the company’s offices in Chile, Argentina, Japan and Italy before serving as president of Lorimar Distribution Intl. and prexy of international sales and marketing for Embassy Pictures, both in London.

Immediately prior to joining New Line, he spent two years as veep of Buena Vista Intl. in Tokyo, where he was responsible for the sales and marketing of theatrical and television product in Japan, Australia and the Far East. For the past two years, Mittweg has also overseen New Line’s domestic and international marketing efforts as co-chairman of worldwide marketing.

Abramson has been chief financial officer for New Line Cinema since 1984. He joined the company in 1981 as controller and was a key member of the team responsible for taking the company public in 1986; he also served in an integral role as New Line merged with Turner Broadcasting in 1994.

Additionally, he has been involved with the company’s subsequent mergers involving Time Warner and America Online.

Emmerich on board

Emmerich joined the company in 1992 as a dual development and music executive. The author of one of New Line’s few bright spots in 2000, “Frequency,” which starred Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel, Emmerich has fast been developing a new team of execs since taking over from DeLuca.

In his position as prexy of music, Emmerich oversaw the development of soundtracks for such pics as “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Next Friday,” “Don Juan DeMarco,” “Seven” and others. He will continue to be responsible for New Line Music.

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