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MGM expands worldwide TV distribution; Jim Packer appointed president

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MUMBAI: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) is reinvigorating its worldwide television distribution operation, hiring senior management and bringing a number of new high profile programs to buyers around the globe. The announcement was made by MGM chairman & CEO Harry E. Sloan and MGM COO Rick Sands.

The restructured MGM Worldwide Television Distribution Group, which reports to Sands, is headed by seasoned distribution executive Jim Packer, who assumes the new title of president. In this position, Packer remains in charge of television distribution worldwide, including US barter sales and syndication, as well as all emerging forms of television programming distribution on a worldwide basis, states an official release.

"After reinvigorating our domestic theatrical distribution business with over 20 new theatrical pictures a year, and establishing a dedicated MGM sales force in partnership with Fox Video, the next logical step is to expand our worldwide television distribution operation to meet our increased activity and product flow," said Sloan in announcing the division's restructuring. "Further, the international market for TV product has never been healthier and MGM continues to be an active and extremely competitive player in the marketplace."

Sands added: "As aggressive and smart competitors, the reorganization of our worldwide television distribution operation is simply one way of maximizing the assets in our library and positions us for future growth in the marketplace. Jim Packer has already made significant contributions during his tenure at MGM and we are pleased he will be leading us to even bigger growth opportunities in his new role as President of the group."

"After spending the last six years here at MGM, I truly understand the value of this tremendous library," said Packer. "Having been given the challenge of increasing our market presence, I could not be more enthused about the expansion of our worldwide distribution team. With 'Casino Royale,' 'Rocky Balboa' and our new slate of premiere movie titles, our expanded distribution presence comes at the ideal time."

Adding fuel to its distribution pipeline, MGM Worldwide Television Distribution Group will handle the international television sales for "Casino Royale" the new James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, and "Rocky Balboa," the sixth and final Rocky movie starring Sylvester Stallone. Leveraging proven properties within the massive MGM library, the MGM Worldwide Television Distribution Group will launch a worldwide sales campaign for the following movies: Legally Blonde 3, Cutting Edge 3
Into the Blue 2, WarGames 2 and Species 4.

In addition to its new program offerings, the MGM Worldwide Television Distribution Group will continue to handle distribution of over 4,000 movie titles and 10,000 television series that make up the MGM library, the world's largest modern filmed and television library. Among the key television properties featured in the MGM catalogue are "Stargate SG-1," the sci-fi series that is celebrating its record-setting 200th episode on the Sci-Fi Channel, and the immensely popular drama series "The L Word," which airs on Showtime in the US, the release adds.

With the announcement of the MGM Worldwide Television Distribution Group restructuring, MGM has also announced key promotions within the group. Joe Patrick has been promoted to executive vice president, North America. He previously served as senior VP for the studio and is based in Los Angeles. Mary Ann Pasante, who has been the VP of Latin America Sales, has also been promoted to senior VP of Latin America Sales and will continue to be based in Atlanta.

Packer, who joined MGM in 2001, initially served as EVP, Domestic TV. In this post, he was the architect of several innovative partnerships, including the MGM/UPN "Weekend Movie" and the PAX/MGM "Night at the Movies."

Packer was promoted to EVP of MGM's Worldwide Television Distribution unit in April 2005, charged with oversight of the studio's worldwide TV distribution activities, including the licensing of MGM programming to TV outlets around the world for free to air network television, basic and pay cable. Packer will continue to be based at the studio's headquarters in Los Angeles.

Before joining MGM, Packer was an executive with The Walt Disney Company, where he spent 15 years working within the Buena Vista Domestic Television Distribution unit. During his tenure at Buena Vista, Packer consistently increased his areas of responsibility, handling the distribution of off-network product, theatrical films and first run series, including such properties as "Home Improvement," "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" and "The Golden Girls," as well as numerous movie packages. Packer, a graduate of Leeds Business School at the University of Colorado at Boulder, also serves on the Board of Governors for the Museum of Television & Radio.

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