Sony sr. VP exits Oz for L.A.

McConnell's new role similar to old, but on 'wider scale'

SYDNEY — After three years at the helm of Sony’s Columbia TriStar Television Prods. Australia, senior VP Fran McConnell is returning to the head office in Los Angeles in May.

McConnell said her new role will be similar to her Oz job, but on a “wider scale,” indicating Sony plans to step up TV production overseas after shuttering its domestic production wing.

She declined to spell out her next role or to say who her successor will be, pending a statement from the studio. One producer who has dealt with the Australian arm said the office is being downsized and several staffers are exiting.

The Aussie-born exec has presided over the production of five telepics in three years, plus the since-canceled drama series “Above the Law” for Network Ten, which she inherited from her predecessor, Jackie O’Sullivan.

Sony was the first major to establish an active full-time TV production presence Down Under five years ago. The unit has an output deal with Ten, but is free to pitch projects to other networks.

McConnell said two projects are in development: a miniseries for the Seven web about a landmark event involving Australians in World War II; and a miniseries about Oz band INXS, whose lead singer Michael Hutchence hanged himself in 1997 in a Sydney hotel room.

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