EXCLUSIVE: Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones are out as heads of marketing at Participant Media. They leave Friday after being there for more than eight of the company’s 10 years, a milestone Participant hits after being formed by eBay founder Jeff Skoll, with Jim Berk as CEO. Shutt and Jones grew up in features, together running marketing for TriStar and Universal, and they helped Participant market with social media campaigns issue-oriented films that include The Help and Lincoln, and the Oscar-winning The Inconvenient Truth and The Cove, Good Night, And Good Luck, and Syriana, and Waiting For Superman. Participant has evolved into a more diversified company and that is why this is happening. I’ve confirmed the exit, which was attributed to a restructuring, and officially I’m told it was a mutual decision to part ways. The company will hire a new marketing head who’ll come in as senior vice president, reporting to feature and documentary heads Jonathan King and Diane Weyermann.
Insiders said that the company was originally envisioned as a film-centric company devoted to pictures that could become part of a social action campaign or highlight a good cause. That has led them to other venues. They launched the cable channel Pivot last August, and just committed to a second season of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HITRECORD On TV. They’ve also got a social action platform called Take Part, which is an activism arm for its productions. Upcoming is Chavez, which premiered in Berlin and will play SXSW; the JC Chandor-directed The Most Violent Year, starring Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac and Albert Brooks, which is in production in New York; the Lasse Hallstrom-directed The 100 Foot Journey with Helen Mirren in post; and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2 with Richard Gere joining the cast.
People tell me Shutt and Jones know what they are doing, and they will stay together as a team and refocus on film campaigns, probably in the capacity of consultants.
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