Shearmur joins push at Lionsgate

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A year and a half after leaving Paramount, Alli Shearmur has landed at Lionsgate as president of motion picture production alongside longtime Lionsgate production head Mike Paseornek.

Shearmur and Paseornek, who will each carry the same title, will report to co-COO and motion picture group president Joe Drake. Shearmur's lock on the position has been in the air for some time, and she officially starts Tuesday.

"I'm very excited to be part of a team again," Shearmur said. "I'm most looking forward to being at a place that has a real sense of momentum and an agile, savvy approach to making movies. They seem to be very creative, out-of-the-box thinkers."

While Paseornek has helped to build the mini-major into an increasingly ambitious studio, he and Shearmur will now essentially run two separate production divisions, with each turning out six to eight films per year. The studio claims that these slates will remain somewhat undefined, Paseornek will focus on Lionsgate's bread-and-butter genre projects, such as urban comedy and horror, while Shearmur will shepherd larger-scale, talent-driven mainstream productions.

The rest of the in-house production team will be split among the two wings, with production vps Jim Miller and Wolfgang Hammer reporting to Shearmur and executive vp Lisa Ellzey and senior vp John Sacchi staying in Paseornek's camp.

"As Lionsgate continues to expand, our goal on the motion picture production side is to foster an environment characterized by creativity and focus," Drake said. "Alli has superb instincts in developing properties, and she brings a substantial base of talent relationships into the Lionsgate fold. She is a terrific complement to Mike, and together they are going to build upon the formidable infrastructure and brand identity that Mike has already established."

Shearmur spent several years as an executive at Walt Disney Pictures and then at Universal, where she had a hand in launching the "American Pie" and "Bourne" series. She then moved to Paramount, where she was promoted to co-president of production under Gail Berman in early 2005. That tenure ended in disappointment when Paramount topper Brad Grey let Berman and Shearmur go in January 2007, leaving Shearmur's co-president, Brad Weston, in charge of Paramount's production division.

Shearmur is a producer on Doug Liman's DreamWorks untitled moon project being written by Dan Mazeau.

It might not take long to see whether a power-sharing arrangement will work for Paseornek and Shearmur given Lionsgate's aggressive efforts to expand its scope, even without the executives sharing a co-president title.

"Mike Paseornek is amazing at what he does, and he has an incredible track record," Shearmur said. "As people continue to do business with us at Lionsgate, it's going to be clear where to bring the movies, and it's such a friendly, collaborative work environment that it should be a very easy process to manage. It's really clear what Mike has been brilliant at."

Lionsgate recently re-upped its arrangement with Tyler Perry for another three years, and it acquired a $340 million credit facility with J.P. Morgan.

On the development horizon are "Warrior," which Gavin O'Connor co-wrote and will direct; "Conan," a fast-tracked project with multiple scripts in the works; "Severance Package," with Brett Simon writing and directing; "Rambo V," to be written and directed by Sylvester Stallone; "Korean Wedding" from writer Jason Filardi; and "Kane & Lynch," a video game adaptation that will star Bruce Willis.

The studio has generated nearly a half billion dollars in boxoffice this past year, and its fall slate includes "Disaster Movie" (opening Friday), "Bangkok Dangerous" (Sept. 5), "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys" (Sept. 12), "Religulous" (Oct. 3), "W" (Oct. 17), "Saw V" (Oct. 24) and "The Spirit" (Dec. 25). (partialdiff)
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