NRG research gurus tracking to sidelines

Exex feel 'the time is right'

Joseph Farrell and Catherine Paura, co-chairs of market research firm NRG for a quarter century, have resigned effective Dec. 31, officials said Thursday.

“The time is right for us,” the pair said in a statement. “We leave NRG in … very capable hands.”

Farrell has been a well-known — if largely behind-the-scenes — movie-marketing figure ever since starting the L.A.-based company after a stint with the Gallup polling organization, and company co-founder Paura has been a key collaborator since the beginning. VNU acquired NRG in 1997 and more recently integrated it into its Nielsen Entertainment unit.

“Our contract as co-chairmen was ending Dec. 31 (and) we said we wanted to switch to being consultants,” Farrell told Daily Variety. “After 25 years, we wanted to get off the top perch even though we’ve never been more successful than we are now.”

Top managers remaining after the co-chairs depart will ensure a smooth transition, he added.

A search for a new topper at NRG soon will commence, officials said. Andrew Wing, chief exec at VNU, is relocating from Gotham to L.A., where he will supervise the candidate search and work closely with Farrell and Paura until year’s end.

“Joe and Catherine leave behind a rich legacy of accomplishments that form a solid base for the future of this great company,” Wing said.

NRG, which is part of VNU’s Nielsen Entertainment unit, offers a range of movie-marketing services –including box office tracking, focus-group testing and surveys gauging viewer response to TV ads. Company employs 1,000 persons in operations in 13 countries.

Marketcast, which is owned and operated by Daily Variety parent Reed Business Information, competes with NRG in certain market segments.