How Universal works


In 1912, when Carl Laemmle merged his Independent Moving Picture Co. with five others to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Co., he could not have imagined that this brand-new studio would survive for nearly 100 years and counting and become one of the most powerful institutions in Hollywood.

 Today, that institution has a workforce of up to 10,000 (the number varies by as many as 2,000, depending on seasonal hiring at its theme park division), and is itself a division of the third-largest corporation in the world, General Electric.

Since GE merged the studio with NBC in 2004, it has been part of a joint venture known as NBC Universal, led by president and CEO Jeff Zucker. What follows is a diagram showing the reporting structure at Universal; whom Meyer reports to and who reports to him. Meyer's nine direct reports have at least one thing in common with him: long, loyal service.

The average term for the top 25 executives running the film division, theme parks and physical studio is 15 years. And like all great bosses, Meyer leads by example -- he's served longer in his current post than any other studio chief.
Jeffrey Immelt
Chairman of the board and CEO, General Electric
Immelt was selected by GE's board of directors to head up the company and assumed the role mere days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jeff Zucker
President and CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer's seventh boss in 13 years, Zucker assumed his current role in February 2007 after serving NBC Uni as a television producer on "The Today Show" and a business leader for two decades.
Ron Meyer
President and COO, Universal Studios
After founding CAA in 1975 with four fellow William Morris agents, Meyer was appointed Universal Studios' top man in 1995.
David Linde
Co-chairman, Universal Picturesr
Linde headed up Focus Features and Rogue Pictures before he and Marc Shmuger assumed Stacey Snider's Universal post when she left to join DreamWorks in March 2006.
Marc Shmuger
Chairman, Universal Pictures
Shmuger was a longtime marketing executive who served as vice chairman of Universal Pictures prior to assuming Snider's position alongside Linde.
Tom Williams
Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts
With over 30 years in the hospitality and leisure industries, many spent at Universal, Williams was a natural to assume his current position in 1999.
Maren Christensen
Executive vp and general counsel, Universal Studios
Christensen was named Universal's chief lawyer in 2005 after serving for eight years as its senior intellectual property counsel and nearly 20 years as a litigator at the Rosenfeld Meyer & Susman firm in Beverly Hills.
Rick Finkelstein
Vice chairman, Universal Pictures, and executive vp, Universal Studios
As part of a reorganization of the Universal Pictures senior team in July 2006 that aimed to ease the company's transition into the digital future and bolster its international distribution efforts, Finkelstein was promoted from his post as president and COO of Universal Pictures.
Cindy Gardner
Senior vp internal communications, NBC Universal and corporate affairs, Universal Studios
In 2005, Meyer promoted Gardner from vp internal communications, touting her professionalism and decade-long service to the company.
Ken Kahrs
Executive vp human resources, Universal Studios
Since joining Universal Studios in 1996 after a 14-year stint at Viacom, Kahrs has introduced performance-based compensation, centralized staffing, expanded parental leave and enhanced child care. In 2000, Meyer promoted Kahrs from his post as senior vp human resources to his current position.
Christy Rupert Shibata
Executive vp and CFO, Universal Studios
In March 2007, Shibata, former CFO of CNBC, replaced Patti Hutton-Glassford when she was promoted to CFO of GE Industrial.
Jim Watters
President and general manager, NBC Universal Operations Group
Watters came to Universal 31 years ago as an assistant film editor and has served in his current position since 1997, earning the informal moniker "the mayor of Universal."