Shaheen in for Miller at JPMorgan

Shuffle at the blue-chip firm's entertainment banking group

JPMorgan veteran David Shaheen has been appointed to succeed film-finance icon John Miller as head of the blue-chip firm's entertainment banking group, with Miller to segue into a consulting role in 2009.

The moves, which coincided with Miller's 40-year anniversary in the banking biz, were announced to firm employees via e-mail Tuesday. JPMorgan has been pre-eminent in leading or backing key film financings for virtually all major players in the industry, and even when hedge-fund money began pouring into Hollywood, it was still often Miller and his JPMorgan troops to whom entertainment companies would turn for credit facilities and strategic counseling.

"I graduated from college on June 15, 1968, and began my banking career on June 17, 1968," Miller wrote in his message to colleagues. "I thought it appropriate to celebrate my 40th anniversary by announcing a successor to manage our Entertainment Industries Group."

Miller said he felt the time was right to pass the reins to his handpicked successor at the firm.

"There isn't anybody who has done what I'm doing as long as I have, and the fact that I'm still standing amazes me," Miller told The Hollywood Reporter with a chuckle. "For me to be working as a banker in an industry that I really, really love and for a company that's been active in the field since the 1920s, well, I feel really blessed."

Under Miller, JPMorgan's Hollywood dominance has been especially apparent in slate funding, but its activities have also extended into technology areas such as digital cinema installations. Big transactions during Miller's tenure in which Shaheen played a key role include an initial public offering for DreamWorks Animation and slate funding for DreamWorks SKG, Revolution Studios, MGM and Lakeshore Entertainment.

Miller began his career with Union Bank of California and later moved to Chemical Bank, which eventually morphed into Chase Manhattan Bank and finally was folded into JPMorgan.

A 15-year veteran of JPMorgan, Shaheen currently is a managing director with the firm's entertainment advisory group. Launched this year, the unit is headed by former Sony executives Alan Levine and Ken Lemberger.

Before joining the advisory group in Los Angeles, Shaheen was part of JPMorgan's investment banking group in New York, with responsibilities including coverage of diversified industries and a leveraged buyout portfolio.

"David is well prepared to lead this group of people, is well-regarded in the community and is the right person to lead the next generation of JPMorgan's entertainment banking activities," Miller said.

"Being given the opportunity to take on such an entertainment franchise as this is an opportunity of a life time," Shaheen said.