Veteran Hollywood executive Helene Hahn is to retire from her jobas DreamWorks' chief operating officer, fuelling speculation that Miramax chiefoperating officer Rick Sands will step in to replace her.

While no replacement announcement seems to be imminent, DreamWorksis believed to be negotiating with Sands.

Hahn's decision to leave the company she has worked with since itslaunch - she also worked alongside DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg atParamount and Disney - comes as DreamWorks prepares to spin off its animationdivision through an initial public offering.

The spin-off is expected to change the responsibilities associatedwith the chief operating officer post.

Hahn will stay in her job until a successor is found and continueas a consultant to DreamWorks for at least a year after that.

According to recent press reports --unconfirmed by Miramax -- Sands has been in talks with the studio.

However a possible move for Sands may depend upon the fate of Miramax itself, a matter that is still being thrashed out by HarveyWeinstein and parent company Disney.

Though Miramax laid off 13% of its workforce last week it stillappears to be thinking ahead where release plans are concerned. This week thecompany reportedly put back the release date of John Dahl's The Great Raidfrom February to December 2005.

And the release by genre division Dimension Films of TerryGilliam's The Brothers Grimm has reportedly been pushed back to November2005. Long-delayed Dimension acquisitions Mindhunters and Darkness,meanwhile, are now said to be headed straight to video.