Peter Kafka

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Murdoch Shuffles Desks on the Fox Lot; Here’s the Full Memo and the Scorecard

rupert-murdoch

This one isn’t quite as momentous as the new blood–and bloodletting–over at Time Warner’s (TWX) AOL, in part because it was more expected.

But in the wake of News Corp. COO Peter Chernin’s departure, Rupert Murdoch is reshuffling the top names at his Fox businesses, which Chernin oversaw.

Murdoch had hinted at this last month when he told the troops that it was “time to streamline” the News Corp. (NWS) operation. (News Corp. is the owner of Dow Jones, which owns this Web site.)

The full memo from Murdoch, explaining the moves, is at the end of this post. But here’s the shorter version:

UP: Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, who formerly ran Murdoch’s Fox movie studio, now oversee both movies and television production.

Rothman, who ran the Fox cable operations, also gets to run Fox’s broadcast operation.

Peter Rice, who ran News Corp.’s faux-indie studio, Fox Searchlight, moves into TV, and will report to Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group.

OUT: Fox broadcasting head Peter Liguori.

STAYING PUT: Roger Ailes continues to run the very successful Fox News Channel, the still-embryonic Fox Business Network and the struggling Fox TV stations group.

Peter Levinsohn, remains the head of Fox Interactive Media, which means that MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe still reports to him, at least nominally.

NOT MENTIONED: Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, who runs News Corp.’s Europe assets and is currently the betting favorite to eventually replace his father.

Here’s the full memo:

Dear Colleagues:

Today I’m announcing a series of management changes to our LA-based businesses to ensure we’re well positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities we will face in the coming months. I have been deeply engaged with senior management to develop a renewed model on which to further grow and transform our business. Challenging economic times can yield great advancements and ultimately unleash new, innovative thinking. Ours is a company that has always thrived on change, so it’s with great enthusiasm that I share with you our initial plans for moving forward.

Creative Production

Effective immediately, all of our LA-based creative production businesses will be reporting to Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, co-chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment. Tom and Jim have built one of the most successful studios in the world, and I have full confidence in their ability to manage our film and television talent in transformative ways. Under this new structure, Gary Newman and Dana Walden, co-chairmen of Twentieth Century Fox Television, will report to Tom and Jim. Emiliano Calemzuk, president, Fox Television Studios, will report to Dana and Gary.

This new creative structure will enable us immediately to operate more efficiently. We will remove unnecessary barriers that have existed between our businesses, thereby better facilitating the sharing of ideas and resources. Not only will we benefit as a business from these changes, but perhaps most importantly, I’m certain our end users–the millions of people around the world who every day enjoy our creative products – will see the benefits as well.

Networks Group

On the television network side of the business, Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, will continue to head the cable networks, the business aspects of FOX Broadcasting, Fox International Channels, and will gain responsibility for FOX Broadcasting programming. Tony has been instrumental in growing our cable businesses both domestically and internationally, and has been responsible for negotiating many of our landmark carriage and broadcast deals that have made us the leader in broadcast and cable television. As part of this restructuring, Peter Liguori has stepped down as chairman of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting. Under his leadership, FOX was the number one network four years in a row, and I am grateful for his many contributions.

Peter Rice, president of Fox Searchlight, will exit his role at the specialty label and will assume the role of chairman of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting. During his long and successful tenure at Fox Searchlight, Peter has been the driving force behind the success of the specialty film genre, shepherding to the screen some of the industry’s most successful films, including Slumdog Millionaire, Little Miss Sunshine, and Juno. Peter has the vision, creativity and determination to grow and remodel our television network, and I’m delighted he has accepted this new challenge.  In this role, Peter will report directly to Tony Vinciquerra.

With Peter’s departure at Fox Searchlight, Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula will jointly run the business, reporting to Jim and Tom. Nancy and Steve, COOs of Fox Searchlight, who have been Peter’s partners through all of the unit’s great successes, will assume full authority for the business. Claudia Lewis, president of production, remains in place.

Other

Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of FOX News Channel and Fox Business Network and chairman of the Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television, and Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media, will continue to report directly to me.

Please join me in congratulating Jim, Tom, Tony and Peter in their new roles.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”