news digest


AOL lays off 450 from Virginia HQ

AOL said Wednesday that it has laid off about 450 employees at its Dulles, Va., headquarters, the last piece of a stated plan revealed in August to reduce its worldwide work force 26% by year's end. The company laid off about 2,200 employees in the U.S. in October and December after shutting down three call centers. Most of the latest round of eliminations were from its subscription business, which was eliminated this year as part of a move to an advertiser-supported business model.

Ehrlich a PGA Visionary

The Producers Guild of America will honor veteran TV awards-show producer Ken Ehrlich with its 2007 Visionary Award. He will be saluted at the group's 18th annual awards ceremony, to be held Jan. 20 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City. The Visionary Award is bestowed annually on a film or TV producer or production demonstrating a "unique or uplifting quality." Past honorees have included the TV show "Rescue Me" and the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." In a career spanning more than 25 years, Ehrlich has been the creative force behind TV productions of the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Blockbuster Awards and the MTV Movie Awards, among other such shows.

Burton named exec producer in Rhythm unit

Rhythm & Hues has named visual effects producer Erika Wangberg Burton executive producer in its film division. She is replacing Lee Berger, who becomes the division's president in the wake of former president Richard Hollander's move to Pixar. Burton has worked at several effects and animation facilities over the course of a 20-year career in the industry. She has overseen Rhythm & Hues' production of "Evan Almighty" and produced "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat" for the studio.

Venice fest slims down film lineup for '07

ROME — A newly streamlined version of the Venice Film Festival is scheduled take place Aug. 29-Sept. 8, organizers said Wednesday. The 64th edition of the event — which will mark the 75th anniversary of the original festival on Venice's famed Lido — will include fewer films than the 2006 edition. On tap are 20 in-competition films, compared with 22; eight out-of-competition films, compared with nine; five midnight selections rather than seven; and 18 films in the Horizons documentary sidebar instead of 19. The festival has added an additional prize — the Golden Lion 75 "prize for excellence" — and will host a special retrospective dedicated to the spaghetti Western.

Showtime unit folds into CBS Par TV Int'l

Showtime's international distribution unit will be folded into CBS Paramount Television International, a CBS spokesman said Wednesday. Staffers at the division, about 10 in all, will be laid off early next year, sources said. Showtime titles that had been handled internationally by the division include the crime drama "Brotherhood," "Dexter," the Kirstie Alley vehicle "Fat Actress" and "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" "Sleeper Cell" also was in the portfolio.

Four re-elected in makeup, stylists guild

The makeup artists and hairstylists guild, IATSE Local 706, has elected its chief officers, with president Susan Cabral-Ebert, business representative Tommy Cole, secretary-treasurer John Jackson and recording secretary Sandi Rowden all re-elected for 2007-10 terms. Karen Westerfield, vp, and Laura Caponera, sergeant-at-arms, are newly elected.
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