Claudio Sposito, CEO of Silvio Berlusconi's media giant Fininvest, has been named president of the multi-billion dollar group's film division, Medusa Film.

Sposito (pictured), who will retain his position at Fininvest, replaces Berlusconi's eldest daughter, Marina, who was appointed to the top job last year, following the sudden death of Medusa boss Carlo Bernasconi.

"Marina Berlusconi's appointment was a temporary one, and Claudio Sposito as a Fininvest manager, represents a symbol of continuity for Medusa," said Medusa spokesman Claudio Trionfera. Marina Berlusconi will continue with her duties as vice-president of Fininvest.

Meanwhile, seven-year-old Medusa, which has powered past its local rivals to become Italy's leading film production and distribution outfit, holds Italian rights to five films which are due to screen both in- and out-of-competition at the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

But a last-minute cloud of uncertainty has suddenly been cast over the presence on the Lido of two of these films - Sergio Rubini's Anima Gemella, which screens in the Against the Mainstream competition and Paolo Virzi's out-of-competition Sicilian-American comedy My Name is Tanino.

Earlier this year, Medusa had acquired Italian rights to both pictures from its financially crippled former rival, Cecchi Gori, along with a package of titles including Roberto Benigni's highly anticipated Pinocchio.

But Cecchi Gori has apparently failed to pay lab costs on the Rubini and Virzi titles, and neither film will be released until the former distribution market leader pays up.

"We bought rights to the completed films," said Trionfera, "and neither film is' well, complete right now - although we hope the situation will resolve itself within the next two to three days."

Cecchi Gori head Vittorio Cecchi Gori has been notoriously engulfed in cash-flow and legal problems for the last 18 months, which have now led to a virtual stall in acquisitions and distribution at his Rome-based company.

During the last week, which has seen Cecchi Gori's premier league football team Fiorentina go bankrupt, speculation has also arisen that the former media mogul will sell at least part of his nationwide chain of cinemas to producer-distributor Fulvio Lucisano, or to Medusa.