Alcon’s execs keep it clear and simple

Sober philosophy started with backer

Even with more than $500 million in financing behind them, the heads of Alcon Entertainment aren’t interested in acting like Hollywood moguls.

If you ask Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove to lunch, they’ll probably suggest a meeting instead at their assiduously low-key offices just west of L.A.’s Century City.

“We do maybe one lunch a month,” Kosove admits. “Most of the time we eat at our desks. If we did go out, we wouldn’t get home in time for dinner.”

The duo don’t arrive at the office at the crack of dawn, either. “Breakfast is really the port of last call,” Johnson admits.

Both have take-the-kids-to-school duties, so they usually come in around 9:45 a.m. Kosove also runs triathlons — occasionally wondering during a race if he’s lost his mind — while Johnson plays in the NBA Entertainment league.

“I don’t think we’d be happier if we were working 18 hours a day,” Kosove notes.

But they admit that they’ve had to burn the midnight oil from time to time, particularly last spring when they closed the five-year deal for their P&A and production financing, plus an extension of their output agreement at Warner Bros.

It’s one of the few notable Hollywood financings to emerge recently amid a tightening credit market. And a few weeks ago, Alcon — best known for “Insomnia,” “P.S. I Love You” and the “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” pics — stepped up to produce and finance postapocalyptic thriller “The Book of Eli,” with Denzel Washington, after the project stalled at Warner Bros.

The duo believe that their close relationship with Alcon owner and FedEx topper Fred Smith enables them to make such moves quickly — as long as they provide him with a clear and coherent analysis of why Alcon’s doing what it’s doing.

There’s an easy rapport and quiet confidence between the two, who occupy the second-story corner office in an unpretentious low-rise building on Santa Monica Boulevard. Adorning the walls are a few posters of Alcon projects, along with Johnson’s diploma from Princeton, where the two met.

Johnson and Kosove devote about a third of a typical day to production, a third to marketing and a third to finance/corporate.

“He’s pretty good at time management,” Johnson says of Kosove, who schedules out their tasks a week in advance.

Both point to humble beginnings in Hollywood as a reminder that success can be elusive. “We started the company month to month at (L.A.’s) Bermuda Apartments,” Kosove recalls. “Our greatest blessing was failing the first time with ‘Lost and Found.’ Fred Smith’s the one who made us explain why ‘Lost and Found’ didn’t work. He demands analytical thought.”

Thanks to the financing, Alcon’s staff now tops 20 with a planned slate of two to four movies a year.

That’s still a “modest” business, the partners say, but they remain cautious rather than carefree — and they are particularly willing to re-examine choices that didn’t work.

“If you’re paying attention to your mistakes, you can sift through the landmines later on,” Kosove muses. “You can see the problem with things that are deceptively attractive — when someone tells you this is a no-brainer, such as actors when they’re doing their own projects and trying ‘something different.’ “

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