Rick Nicita, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency, has been elected chairman of the American Cinematheque, the nonprofit organization that is greatly expanding its range of activities.

Under the direction of Nicita and Barbara Smith, the Cinematheque director, the 22-year-old group will operate the historic Aero Theater on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, in conjunction with the Hollywood Egyptian. Much of the Cinematheque’s programming will play both theaters.

The Aero was built in 1939 by Donald Douglas — founder of Douglas Aircraft Co. — as a recreation facility for his employees. The Cinematheque will renovate the theater, installing new projection and enhanced acoustics as well as a new concession stand.

“The American Cinematheque has been a major cultural resource whose influence extends far beyond the Hollywood community,” said Nicita. “The addition of the Aero to the already successful operation at the Egyptian will allow many more movie fans to see great films.”

Celebrating film

Established in 1981, the Cinematheque is a viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the moving picture in all its forms. The organization renovated and restored the historic Egyptian, built in 1922, which was the scene of Hollywood’s first movie premiere.

As chairman, Nicita replaces co-chairmen Peter Dekom and Mike Medavoy, who became chairman emeritus. Henry Shields Jr. was re-elected as president.

“The Cinematheque will run the Aero under an agreement with developer Jim Rosenfield and John Bucksbaum,” Barbara Smith said.