Picturehouse taps Cherkas for senior exec role

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NEW YORK -- Calling her "my No. 2, go-to person," Picturehouse president Bob Berney named GreeneStreet Films partner Vicki Cherkas senior executive vp operations Monday.

Cherkas will oversee all daily business operations for Picturehouse, including productions and acquisitions, and serve as a liaison between the distributor and parent companies New Line Cinema and HBO. Berney said her appointment will be key in establishing international operations at the company.

She is the second executive to leave producer GreeneStreet in the past month, following director of development Annie Marter's recent jump to serve as manager of production and acquisitions at the new indie Overture Films. Marter will report to executive vp productions and acquisitions Robert Kessel, who is leading the New York office for Overture CEO Chris McGurk and COO Danny Rosett and will be joined there by two publicity and marketing executives.

Cherkas' appointment is a move toward strengthening the corporate structure at Picturehouse and establishing international operations, Berney said. "One of her responsibilities is to coordinate the traffic as productions and scripts come in through our parent companies and create seamless continuity," he said.

Cherkas, who reports to Berney when she starts April 1, will work with such point people as Picturehouse senior vp acquisitions Sara Rose, HBO Films senior vp Julie Goldstein and New Line vp production and acquisitions Merideth Finn, production president Toby Emmerich and international president Camela Galano. "We'll be looking to maximize the relationships Bob has with the other companies," she said.

"As we and our opportunities grow, Vicki will help us run the operation more smoothly, even on the marketing and distribution side," said Berney, who added that the exec will help coordinate new technologies the company will use, including cell phone promotions with HBO.

Cherkas has worked for six years as a partner and head of business affairs, business development and new ventures at GreeneStreet, which produced "A Prairie Home Companion," last year's highest-grossing Picturehouse release. Berney worked with Cherkas on that project and knew her during her previous job as senior vp business and legal affairs at Miramax Films.

Her background includes arranging business deals on such films as "Companion," "In the Bedroom" and "Tenderness" at GreeneStreet, "Chicago" and "Pulp Fiction" at Miramax. She also served as executive producer on "Once in a Lifetime" and co-executive producer on "Uptown Girl."

The move also signals a change for GreeneStreet, led by partners with John Penotti, Fisher Stevens and Tim Williams. The company has no plans to replace Marter, said Penotti, who is in discussions with a few people to take over Cherkas' position.

Penotti said it was too early to say whether the new exec would be based in New York or at the company's recently launched Los Angeles office headed by Williams. GreeneStreet International, headed by Ariel Veneziano, also is now based in Los Angeles. Penotti said he and Stevens are dedicated to having an office based in New York but plans to put a greater emphasis on the creative side of his business in Los Angeles.

Marter's move will help bolster the slate of Overture, which launched in November and announced the appointment of Kessel, fellow executive vp productions and acquisitions Sean Furst and senior vp productions and acquisitions Bryan Furst in January. Overture plans to release two films this year, six to eight next year and eventually 10-12 a year, aiming for a quarter of the less than $25 million-$30 million features to be acquisitions.

Before her two years at GreeneStreet, Marter spent four years as a creative executive at Revere Pictures.
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