Sony Pictures TV's int'l president exiting

Michael Grindon has been with the company for 24 years

Longtime Sony Pictures Television International president Michael Grindon will exit the company in March.

Rumors of changes at the top of the division circulated for months, and with this week's layoffs mostly in home video, the rumblings resurfaced. Ironically, the news comes as the company posted its first profit in five quarters, and mention was made of the healthy contribution from international TV.

Grindon's SPTI was folded into Sony Pictures TV in March, which no doubt made the unit a target for corporate rationalization.

It appears that Grindon will not be replaced, but rather his three key lieutenants -- Keith LeGoy, who heads international program sales; Andy Kaplan, who spearheads channels abroad; and Kees Abrahams, who oversees foreign productions -- will report directly to SPT president Steve Mosko.

"We are finishing this year with strong growth; an experienced, talented management team in place; and a clear vision for future success," Grindon said Thursday. "Now is the right moment for me to move on to the next challenge." He told THR he was interested in "the relationship between international and new media" and will explore opportunities in that area.

SPT's international business has undergone exponential growth since 1986, when Grindon joined the company. Today, it has 122 channel spinoffs in 140 countries, and under Grindon's direction, the company set up local-language production operations in 20 territories. The company's formats are widely licensed abroad, and its program sales to foreign broadcasters are believed to top $1 billion in annual revenue.

"I am grateful to Michael for his many contributions to Sony Pictures Television," Mosko said. "He has built a terrific team of international executives who will ensure continued strong business performance."

Said Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, "Michael created our international TV business from the ground up."

The Sony corporate release was typically long on compliments but short on explanations as to the whys and wherefores of the departure. Changes at the top of the majors' international TV divisions tend to be rare as the job requires a grasp of the global industry, good people skills and a lot of travel. (As a foreign-owned conglom, however, Sony prides itself on fielding a more globally experienced staff.)

Grindon served in several posts at SPTI before being named president of the division in 1995. Before that, he spent six years at HBO as director of national accounts.