Surprise Shakeup At Universal
Despite the fact that the top executives at Universal Pictures had been responsible for making the studio the No. 2 moneymaker among Hollywood studios this year, a shakeup by owner Comcast on Monday saw the studio chairman, Adam Fogelson, ousted and the president/COO, Ron Meyer, kicked upstairs to what The New York Times called a kind of senior statesman role across the company. His title will be vice chairman of NBCUniversal. Taking over the reins at the film company will be Jeff Shell, a longtime Comcast executive whose previous bailiwick has been television, with a focus on expanding Comcast's operations overseas. He has had virtually no experience in the movie business. In reporting on the shakeup, the Wall Street Journal observed that it signaled that international experience and close ties to the parent company may be more important in a movie studio chief than releasing a string of hit movies. Those hits include the latest Fast and Furious sequel, Identity Thief, Les MisÃ©rables, and Despicable Me 2. In a statement, Steve Burke, Chief Executive of Comcast's NBCUniversal media division, said that Shell is perfectly positioned to lead our film group at a time when global expansion is more important than ever.