This the latest promotion for Nicole Seligman, who has become a formidable behind-the-scenes force at Sony since she was recruited by former CEO Howard Stringer to be the company’s general counsel after she repped Oliver North in the Iran-Contra hearings and President Bill Clinton when he was impeached. In her new position she’ll directly oversee important functions at the company’s movie and music properties, reporting to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. She’ll continue to report to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai in her new role as Senior Legal Counsel and as she keeps her corporate duties as President, Sony Corporation of America and as a member of Sony’s Group Executive Committee.
The company says that in her new role at Entertainment she will “develop overall strategy and growth opportunities, identify and implement efficiencies within and among [Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and the Sony/ATV Music Publishing joint venture] and expand the businesses’ combined global footprint and influence.” She’ll directly oversee finance, human resources, legal and corporate communications. “I sought out Nicole for this role and am thrilled to work with her to explore new ways to leverage Sony Entertainment’s business and creative assets into new opportunities for profitability and growth,” said Lynton.
Sony vowed to streamline the entertainment operation last year after it rejected a proposal by hedge fund owner Daniel Loeb to spin off a minority stake in the businesses. (Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.) Late last year Sony hired Bain & Co to find $100M in cost cuts.
Seligman is extremely well plugged-in. She was a bridesmaid for her Harvard classmate Carolyn Kennedy when Kennedy married Edwin Schlossberg in 1986. Seligman is married to Joel Klein — the former Justice Department antitrust chief and New York City school chancellor who joined News Corp at the beginning of 2011 and had Rupert Murdoch’s ear on legal matters including the UK hacking and bribery scandals.
Here’s today’s release:
[Tokyo, May 30, 2014] – Sony Corporation today announced that Nicole Seligman has been named to a new position – President of Sony Entertainment, the parent company of subsidiaries Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and joint venture Sony/ATV Music Publishing. In this new role, Ms. Seligman will report to Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, and will help drive profitability, growth and innovation in the company’s entertainment sector. Ms. Seligman was also named Senior Legal Counsel, Sony Group, changed from EVP, General Counsel, Corporate Executive Officer, Sony Corporation. Ms. Seligman’s positions as President, Sony Corporation of America and as a member of Sony’s Group Executive Committee remain unchanged. She continues to report to Sony Corporation President and CEO Kazuo Hirai in these Sony Group roles.
As President of Sony Entertainment Ms. Seligman will oversee key HQ functions of the subsidiary companies, such as finance, human resources, legal and corporate communications, whose functional heads will report directly both to her and their respective Chief Executive Officers. The Chief Executive Officers will continue to report to Mr. Lynton. As an integral part of her new role Ms. Seligman will also work with Mr. Lynton to develop overall strategy and growth opportunities, identify and implement efficiencies within and among the three Sony Entertainment companies, and expand the businesses’ combined global footprint and influence.
“I sought out Nicole for this role and am thrilled to work with her to explore new ways to leverage Sony Entertainment’s business and creative assets into new opportunities for profitability and growth,” said Lynton. “We have so much talent to draw upon, and I’m very happy that we now also have Nicole’s broad experience and proven judgment focused on moving Sony Entertainment forward.”
“Nicole is a dynamic and respected leader whose experience and skills are ideally suited to help spur the growth of our Sony Entertainment properties, while continuing her essential role as an advisor to me and Tokyo senior management,” said Hirai. “This shift in Nicole’s focus, and new management model, reaffirm Sony’s emphasis on and commitment of significant resources to growth in our Entertainment company.”
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Michael as we harness the exceptional talent of our people and encourage the development of new synergy points to catalyze innovation throughout the company,” said Seligman. “I appreciate the confidence that Kaz and Michael have shown in me, and I’m eager to build upon a very productive, collaborative relationship in pursuit of our shared objectives for Sony Entertainment.”
As President of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a position she has held since June 2012, Seligman will continue to oversee the operations of Sony’s US Headquarters.
Ms. Seligman joined SCA as Executive Vice President and General Counsel in September 2001, was named Corporate Executive Officer, Sony Corporation, in June 2003, and was promoted to Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Sony Corporation in June 2005. Previously, she was a partner in the litigation practice of Williams & Connolly LLP, in Washington, D.C., where she worked on a broad range of complex civil and criminal matters and counseled a wide range of clients, including President William Jefferson Clinton and Lt. Col. Oliver North. Prior to that, she served as law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court of the United States (1984-1985) and to Judge Harry T. Edwards at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1983-law). From 1978-l980, she was associate editorial page editor for the Asian Wall Street Journal based in Hong Kong.