Uni operation in Germany taps Wilson


COLOGNE, Germany -- Andrea Willson, former head of production at Columbia Pictures' German-language division and now a production executive with Swiss-based Falcom Media Group, has been tapped to head Universal Pictures' new German operation, sources said Friday.

Universal co-chairman David Linde is expected to announce Willson's appointment at the Berlin Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday. Linde also will unveil details of the studio's strategy for the Berlin-based division, which will focus on local-language features.

As head of Deutsche Columbia Pictures, Willson had a major hit with her first production, the horror thriller "Anatomy," directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (Oscar nominee "The Counterfeiters"). "Anatomy" sold more than 2 million tickets in Germany and helped cement the career of then-rising star Franke Potente.

Deutsche Columbia's later productions were unable to match that high-water mark. After "Anatomy 2" fell well short of the original, Columbia pulled the plug on its German operation.

Willson moved to Falcom in 2004 to build up the group's German film division. In 2005, she produced "Erkan & Stefan III," the latest edition in a successful German comedy franchise.