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Home Entertainment Execs Will Stay Afloat

2 Mar, 2012 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Declining disc sales and the renewed strength of the rental business, which doesn’t make the studios much money, has created a stable of competent home entertainment executives who through no fault of their own lost their high-profile studio positions in the recent past.

Marshall Forster, Eric Doctorow, Tom Lesinski, Matt Lasorsa and Jeff Fink are just a few of the A-list executives who are smart, talented and hard-working – and available.

Now, their ranks have been joined by a veritable dream team of Summit Entertainment executives, led by Steve Nickerson, Bobby Gerber and Sandy Friedman – all victims of the independent studio’s purchase by Lionsgate.

If I ran a studio, I’d snap these guys up in a heartbeat – and if I didn’t have any open positions, which seems to be a common problem up in Hollywood these days, I’d create something for them. All of them.

Nickerson, Gerber and their associates are well-versed in marketing tentpoles and brought years of major-studio experience to Summit. As one of our reporters observed, they were “instrumental in driving 'Twilight' disc sales through the roof through innovative marketing efforts, midnight store openings, exclusive bonus materials, etc.”

And on the operations end of the business, Sandy Friedman is a human security blanket. You don’t get more competent, honest or forthright than this guy, who ran operations for eight years at DreamWorks before moving on to Netflix and then Summit.

The good news in all of this is that our executives seem to have this uncanny ability to reinvent themselves. Eric Doctorow’s the master of this: Since leaving Paramount a decade ago, he’s run a video game company (THQ) and then overhauled a struggling independent (Ventura) before returning to the major-studio fold as general manager of MGM.

And he’s not the only one. Louis Feola, Andrew Kairey, and a whole lot of others have all parlayed their studio careers into something just as lucrative, just as rewarding. One of my favorite reinvention stories is that of Stuart Snyder, who after Turner Home Entertainment was sold ran off to join the circus – literally. He became CEO of Feld Enterprises, which operates the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (Snyder ultimately wound up back at Turner, tapped to run GameTap in 2005 and, two years later, appointed president and COO of Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media for Turner Broadcasting.)

I have no doubt the Summit Three – and whoever follows in their wake – will find work. As the saying goes, it’s hard to keep a good man down. And even in this economy, with record-high unemployment, there’s always consulting to bridge any employment gaps that might occur.

One thing our business has always been good at is taking care of our own. In this case, whoever snaps up Nickerson, Gerber and Friedman – either on a full-time basis or as a consultant – won’t be disappointed.



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About the Author: Thomas K. Arnold

Thomas K. Arnold

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