Rising Starz: Pair ups top execs


Starz Media has promoted president and chief operating officer John Hyde and Starz Animation CEO Kent Rice in a move designed to create more synergy among the company's various production divisions.

Rice will take on the additional title of president and chief operating officer at Starz Media, filling the post held by Hyde, who is moving into the newly created position of vice chairman.

In addition to running the Starz Animation unit, Rice will now have operational responsibility for the Film Roman animation unit and the Starz Prods. live-action division, bringing all production at the company under one manager.

Hyde will continue to manage Starz Home Entertainment -- including the Anchor Bay and Manga brands -- and will take on additional responsibility for new business, partnership development and industry and talent relations. Hyde will work closely with Rice in the initial process of consolidating the various production entities.

Both will continue to report to Starz Media chairman and CEO Robert Clasen, as will Starz Media president of distribution and marketing Neil Braun. Rice will remain based in Denver, and Hyde will continue to work from the Starz Media office in Burbank.

Clasen said it made sense to bring all of the production divisions under one person's oversight following parent Liberty Media Corp.'s acquisition of IDT Entertainment, which it merged with pay TV subsidiary Starz Entertainment Group in August to form Starz Llc., a fully integrated media company that produces and distributes live-action and animated programming on multiple platforms. Starz Llc. was split into two divisions, with IDT being renamed Starz Media and SEG now called Starz Entertainment.

Clasen said that Rice will be able to make "the best possible use" of the creative teams and resources at the various divisions located in Toronto and Burbank and take advantage of synergistic opportunities.

"We have very creative people who don't need to be pigeonholed as TV or theatrical or live action or animation," Clasen said. "I'm fond of saying that it's nice to look at things with new eyes -- to let the live-action and animation people do a cross-eyed look at (other areas) and see how things turn out."

He noted the benefit in having Hyde "spearhead for us an effort across all of the Starz businesses" in terms of development, talent, customer interaction, financing and fund-raising, among other responsibilities.

"John is certainly going to mentor us as we're putting these production businesses together," Clasen added. "He'll also help out in business development and be our eyes and ears in L.A."

Rice was named CEO of Starz Animation in August. Before that, he was executive adviser to Starz Entertainment, where he played a key role in the acquisition of IDT last year and managed its merger with Starz Entertainment.

Hyde was named president and chief operating officer of Starz Media in 2005. Before that, he had been chief operating officer of IDT Entertainment and CEO of Film Roman since 1999.