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Sony’s Stringer to stay

U.S. topper reups for 2 years

Sony Corp. of America chairman and CEO Howard Stringer has signed a contract to stay on for another two years with an option for a third.

The decision comes as Sony Pictures Entertainment completes what has been a record-breaking year. It also affirms Sony’s currently enviable status as an island of relative corporate calm.

Stringer is reupping less than three months after he promoted Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment prexy Yair Landau, Columbia Pictures chair Amy Pascal and Col president of worldwide marketing and distribution Jeff Blake to co-equal corporate level positions. All three execs report to SPE chairman-CEO John Calley, who is also expected to remain in place.

Stringer continues to report to Sony Corp. president and chief operating officer Nobuyuki Idei.

Observers say one of Stringer’s strengths has been his ability to bridge the differing corporate cultures of Sony’s Japanese parent and the more free-wheeling U.S. subsidiary, especially the film studio.

The studio currently enjoys the momentum of a hit-heavy summer slate that was topped by “Spider-Man” but also included “Men In Black II” and this spring’s “Panic Room.”

Looking ahead, SPE’s 2003 lineup includes Julia Roberts in “Mona Lisa Smile” and Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in “Anger Management,” both from Revolution Studios, and the Col franchises “Bad Boys 2” with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and “Charlie’s Angels 2” with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore.

On the TV side, Sony slimmed down its domestic network operations a year ago, moving from a roster-driven business to a leaner model based on specific projects. Studio is developing a handful of pilot scripts for the major nets, including a laffer for the WB from Sandler’s Sony-based production shingle.

In addition, unit recently changed its name from Columbia TriStar Television to Sony Pictures Television. TV operations are now divided into network, cable and syndie divisions under the leadership of prexy Steve Mosko.

Studio continues to produce primetime hits such as “King of Queens” and “Dawson’s Creek.” In syndication, the studio distributes quizzers such as “Pyramid” and talkers such as “The Ricki Lake Show.” It also produces hit quizzers “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”, which are distribbed by King World.

On the cable side, Sony distributes and is a co-producer of Emmy-winning FX drama “The Shield.”

Prexy in 1997

Known as a calm and meticulous exec who maintains a sense of humor, Stringer came to Sony Corp. of America as its president in May 1997. About six months earlier, Sony had restructured its New York office after naming Calley as SPE’s president and chief operating officer.

A former president of the CBS broadcast group, Stringer played a key role in establishing Gotham as Sony’s second headquarters.

Stringer was named chairman of Sony Canada in July 1997 and chairman of Sony Electronics in January 1998. Five months later, Stringer was also named SPE chairman.

In December 1998, he was named SCA chairman. At that time, music and film were put under his watch, rather than reporting to Sony’s Tokyo headquarters. He was appointed to the Sony Corp. board in June 1999.

Stringer ankled CBS after 30 years in 1995, then spent two years as chairman-CEO of Tele-TV, an effort by Bell Atlantic Corp., Nynex Corp. and Pacific Telesis Corp. to produce interactive TV programming.

The Wales-born Stringer was knighted at Buckingham Palace in July 2000. He was given the title Knight Bachelor, making him Sir Howard Stringer, while his wife, Dr. Jennifer A.K. Patterson, was dubbed Lady Stringer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1985, but maintains a residence in England and his status as a Brit subject.

Stringer will receive an honorary Emmy at the 30th annual International Emmy Awards in New York Nov. 25.

(Josef Adalian and Michael Schneider contributed to this report.)

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