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Lesinski Takes Digital Helm at Paramount; Avery to Head Home Entertainment

1 Feb, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

(L-R): Thomas Lesinski and Kelley Avery

Thomas Lesinski has been tapped to head Paramount Pictures' newly formed Paramount Digital Media Group and Kelley Avery, who ran DreamWorks SKG's worldwide home entertainment division, is taking his place.

The announcement came late Wednesday as Paramount closed its acquisition of DreamWorks and was made by Brad Grey, president and chairman of Paramount Pictures.

In his new post Lesinski, who came to Paramount from Warner Home Video in 2003, will spearhead the company's expansion into new digital platforms for its filmed entertainment.

Calling Lesinski an “innovative thinker,” Grey said Lesinski already had begun “exploring the many new platforms available to consumers to access Paramount's films. Digital will be an enormous part of our future and I can't think of anyone better than Tom to take us there.”

“The way people consume content is changing dramatically, and the formation of the digital media group is a strategic move to keep Paramount products easily accessible on all platforms,” Lesinski said. "I'm very excited about the opportunity to bring our content into the new digital space."

Avery, who had been at DreamWorks since its inception in 1998, is a product of the Disney-video-hit-machine that came to life during the late-1980s and early-1990s tenure of Bill Mechanic and Ann Daly. Daly later went to DreamWorks, while Mechanic became studio chief at 20th Century Fox.

Last December, Paramount announced it had struck a deal to buy DreamWorks for $1.6 billion and would sell of its 59-title library for around $850 million to help defray the cost of the sale. Paramount would retain worldwide distribution rights to those titles.

The Paramount announcement came as a surprise to industry observers who had keenly watched protracted negotiations between DreamWorks and NBC Universal, its longtime distributor.

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