In the second big departure in the executive ranks at Sony Pictures in two days, Doug Belgrad has stepped down as president of the Motion Picture Group after two years in the post. He will leave the studio he has called home for 27 years to move into a producing gig. This comes after weeks of rumors that a change was in the works and only a day after Steve Mosko left the company after 23 years on the TV side as its chairman. Mosko, it was known, was unhappy with his boss, Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment.
Belgrad was long thought to be the next in line for the top post at Sony after Amy Pascal stepped down last year as chairman. Instead, Lynton brought Tom Rothman over as chairman. Belgrad has long been considered one of the key executives at Sony and a consistent player who worked hard in getting pictures into the pipeline. He will leave his post in July, sources said.
The move also comes as the Sony board is meeting right now in San Diego. News of Belgrad’s exit reached a fevered pitch with rumors that he might even partner with another friend in a producing deal, but that was discounted as late as yesterday.
Meanwhile, Sony acted quickly today announcing a new executive structure of its television unit after Mosko’s sudden departure. As of today all of Mosko’s top lieutenants — Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, Presidents of Programming and Production; Andy Kaplan, President of Worldwide Networks; Keith Le Goy, President of Distribution; and Amy Carney, President of Advertiser Sales & Research — all report directly to Lynton.
Belgrad meanwhile cut his teeth at Sony, joining the company in 1989 before climbing into the executive ranks as co-president of production at Columbia in 2003 and then president five years later.
Like Mosko, Belgrad is a highly regarded executive and well-liked among his peers and among creative talent; the only difference is that his departure was murmured about since Rothman came aboard and only intensified in recent weeks, whereas Mosko’s exit took the town by surprise.