Uni doles out new duties to Kornblau

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Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau has been given expanded duties and will now be in charge of global digital activities as well as home entertainment.

In a related development, Universal executive vp Michael Joe, who had been overseeing digital activities, has been given operational oversight of the studio's international-based local-language film production activities as well as worldwide acquisitions. He will also also oversee joint initiatives with Focus Features and Rogue Pictures for the studio.

Kornblau, who assumed the presidency of Universal's home entertainment division in March 1999, becomes one of two top executives with both packaged media and digital under their domain. The other is Warner Bros. Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara.

Kornblau adds president of Universal Pictures Digital Platforms to his title. He will oversee worldwide electronic sell-through and HD DVD, domestic VOD, the advanced technology group and the digital entertainment group, which is responsible for wireless, mobile and interactive gaming platforms.

Kornblau, who as president of Universal's home entertainment division oversees domestic home video, worldwide consumer products and direct-to-video productions, will continue to report to Universal Pictures vice chairman Rick Finkelstein and co-chairman David Linde.

Kornblau has built USHE into one of the major studios' strongest, most innovative and most respected home video divisions. He is considered a pioneer in event marketing and franchise exploitation and has recently emerged as the de facto spokesman for the HD DVD next-generation camp, waging an uphill fight against Blu-ray Disc and its contingent of supportive studios.

"I'm pleased to expand into the digital arena," Kornblau said. "The way consumers bring entertainment into their lives is evolving and broadening. I'm very excited about addressing the big-picture issues and challenges that lie ahead in navigating the uncharted waters in emerging and next-generation distribution and exhibition platforms."

Meanwhile, Joe will continue to run business development and serve as the company's chief strategy officer, defining Universal's windowing policies, global strategies and long-term growth plans. He will continue to represent Universal Pictures on anti-piracy and public policy matters.

In addition, Joe will work closely with Finkelstein as Universal's chief point person on both single-picture and slate equity financial deals. He reports to Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger and Linde.

Joe first joined Universal Studios in 1995 as part of its corporate development group. He came aboard Universal Pictures as vp, business development and strategic planning in August, 1999, was promoted to exec vp in 2005, and was named exec vp, Universal, in July 2006.

International EST and VOD sales will be consolidated under Beth Minehart, who will continue to report to Belinda Menendez on VOD and to Kornblau on EST.

Eddie Cunningham will continue to head Universal Pictures International Entertainment and oversee international marketing and distribution of home entertainment product.

"Craig and M.J. have demonstrated exceptional ability in recognizing opportunities in the changing landscape of our business," Shmuger and Linde said. "Craig's many accomplishments in leading home entertainment, and his contributions to digital distribution, make the grouping of digital activities under him an ideal fit.

"M.J. has excelled at working strategically across all divisions of our studio and has been especially effective in meeting our global growth initiatives. We congratulate both M.J. and Craig on their new responsibilities and look forward to continued outstanding contributions from each of them."

In February, Universal restructured its home entertainment division, consolidating marketing for home entertainment and theatrical into one group.
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