U shifting to Brit base

Expansion raises questions about UIP commitment

In the first moves in the restructuring of Universal’s foreign operations, recently appointed international prexy David Kosse fired four L.A.-based execs Monday, including senior veep Randy Greenberg.

Moves come as part of Kosse’s plan to guide U’s foreign releases from London, where he’s based.

“This is the first step of an evolution to creating a centralized unit based out of London,” said Kosse, who joined U last fall from the U.K.’s Momentum Pictures (Daily Variety, Sept. 11). “Ever since I came over, part of my mandate was to look at where the operations stand and how to integrate them.”

Kosse declined to discuss the details of what U’s foreign operations would look like after restructuring. But whatever the shape of things, U will be the only studio to have its international chief based overseas.

Kosse praised the ankling execs. “Each one of them has performed great,” he said.

In addition to Greenberg, those ankling are VP of international ads and promotions Stacey Barger, VP of international publicity Barbara Hannegan and media director Jacqueline Stasi.

Senior publicist Larry Angrisani resigned and will not be replaced.

Greenberg’s assistant, Michelle Mountain, and Hannegan’s assistant, Jamie Scott, also were let go.

Greenberg said: “The team I put together was fantastic and did a terrific job. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I wish them the best wherever they go.”

The international distrib team led by veep Jack Ledwith will remain in place at the U lot, reporting to Kosse.

Kosse, in turn, reports to U vice chairman Marc Shmuger.

Whither UIP?

The expansion of U’s London office has raised questions about the studio’s commitment to United Intl. Pictures, its joint venture with Paramount which handles physical distrib for both studios. Both U and Par have pacted to stay in UIP through 2006.

U also handles foreign distrib for DreamWorks under an agreement that was extended in November through 2010.

Greenberg’s exit simplifies the flowchart for U’s foreign marketing. His L.A. unit handled foreign releases of U’s slate, while Universal Pictures Intl. prexy David Livingstone oversaw releases from Working Title out of London.

After restructuring, marketing for all pics will come from London.

But U is conducting an experiment of sorts — as well as putting lots of faith in teleconferencing — by placing its foreign marketing base more than 5,000 miles away from Lankershim Boulevard.

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