Phyllis Yaffe named to Lionsgate board

Will replace Laurie May, co-president of Maple Pictures

TORONTO -- Lionsgate has named veteran Canadian broadcast executive Phyllis Yaffe to its board of directors, replacing Laurie May, co-president of Canadian movie distributor Maple Pictures.

Vancouver-based Lionsgate in a U.S. securities filing Monday nominated Yaffe, a former CEO of Canadian broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications, to a 12-person slate of proposed directors to be voted on at an upcoming shareholders meeting.

The slate of director nominees includes Mark Rachesky, a former Carl Icahn investment strategist with a 19.8% stake in the indie studio, to replace Mark Amin who along with May will not stand for re-election.

Unveiling Lionsgate’s board nominees ahead of an annual shareholders meeting, likely in September, aims in part to help fend off a possible proxy fight by activist shareholder Carl Icahn.

A Lionsgate spokesman said Yaffe will bring the mini-studio new broadcast expertise as it continues its successful diversification into TV production and broadcasting.

While at Alliance Atlantis, Yaffe ran 13 cable channels eventually acquired in 2007 by rival broadcaster Canwest Global Communications Corp. and financing partner Goldman Sachs & Co.

As Alliance Atlantis CEO, Yaffe also controlled a half-stake in the popular "CSI" TV series franchise along with then partner CBS Prods. Yaffe is also a director of Canadian exhibition giant Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund and newspaper publisher Torstar Corp., which also has a 20% stake in Canadian media group CTVglobemedia.

Lionsgate said May will remain in its fold as co-president of Maple Pictures, which distributes Lionsgate titles in Canada.

In its August 17 securities filing, Lionsgate indicated it also intends to fill its boardroom with more independent directors like Yaffe and Rachesky, and have fewer non-independent directors like Maple Pictures principal May and Amin, a producer attached to Lionsgate through a first-look agreement.