Inside The Summit And Lionsgate Merger: Layoffs Are The Order Of The Day

BREAKING: This is the week when the pain from the Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment merger gets felt, as the pieces are being mixed and matched, and layoffs rule the day. It sounds a lot like the plot of Highlander, a high profile remake that comes in through Summit. They are taking heads, and when it comes to mashing together departments in film and home video and choosing an exec to run it, there can be only one. Besides eliminating one major maker and buyer of pictures, how great is this merger for an already struggling feature and TV industry?

Here is the latest stuff I’m hearing. Richie Fay, Summit’s former president of distribution, will become president of distribution for Lionsgate; David Spitz will stay on as general sales manager at Lionsgate. That means that Bill Lewis, exec veep and general sales manager for Summit, will likely leave. Chris LeRoy had become defacto head of distirbution for Lionsgate after Steve Rothenberg passed away two years ago after an illness. It’s not exactly clear what happens to LeRoy, who came in on an interim consulting basis, but he’s likely to exit.

Expectations are that with Erik Feig being named president of production of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, Lionsgate production topper Alli Shearmur will be leaving. I’ve heard that she might remain involved in The Hunger Games trilogy, perhaps in a producing role. Lionsgate’s Joe Drake has still been reporting to Lionsgate after Summit partners Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger were named co-chairs of the Motion Picture Group. I’m hearing a possible scenario is that Drake might once again become a principal in Mandate Pictures and perhaps even reacquire the company. Drake moved to run Lionsgate’s movie business after Mandate was acquired by the company in 2007.

Several other shoes have yet to drop, including whether Summit’s Nancy Kirkpatrick or Lionsgate’s Tim Palen will steer feature marketing. It’s unlikely both will survive. Unclear yet is the fate of Mike Paseornek, longtime president of Lionsgate Films. I’m hearing that a high likelihood he’ll stay and run one of two film labels that will be established within the Lionsgate/Summit merged assets.

I’m told that a lot of this stuff should shake out within the next week or two.

Previous reports have Summit’s home entertainment head Steve Nickerson getting laid off, with Lionsgate presidet Steve Beeks continuing to steer home entertainment along with deputy Ron Schwartz. That means Summit execs Bobby Gerber and Alex Fragen will also be leaving.

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