D’Works exec Nelson off to Cendant

Nonshowbiz positions enticing H'wood players

DreamWorks exec Ron Nelson has formally ankled the upstart, title-free studio, to get the big title — and presumably big money — as chief financial officer and board member of Cendant Corp., the New York-based travel and real estate conglom.

Nelson follows an increasingly well-trod trail of Hollywood execs who are decamping to greener, nonshowbiz pastures. Michael Johnson left earlier this month as Walt Disney Intl. prexy to become CEO of Herbalife. Last fall, fellow Disney exec Paul Pressler took the helm of retailer the Gap after ankling his post as chairman of Disney’s Theme Parks and Resorts business.

Nelson’s exit was anticipated (Daily Variety, March 12) when he issued a memo to co-workers last month.

Nelson, 50, left as CFO of Paramount in 1994 to help launch the film and TV studio alongside Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen and was considered the company’s principal operating executive. He was instrumental in raising more than $5 billion in capital required to launch the company and was largely responsible for developing its infrastructure. In December, Nelson successfully negotiated a $1.5 billion corporate refinancing for the privately held and loss-making 8-year-old TV and film studio.

DreamWorks sources said no one is taking over Nelson’s position in the company, though finance executive Tony Hull was expected to pick up lead chores on financial matters.

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