Michael Lyntonhas been named chairman and chief executive officer of Sony PicturesEntertainment (SPE), stepping into the void left by John Calley's retirement inOctober.

SPE vicechairman Amy Pascal is promoted to chairman of the motion picture group andwill assume responsibility for all films produced and distributed by SPE. Bothappointments become effective in January 2004.

Lynton willrelocate to Los Angeles from New York, where for the past three years he hasserved as president of Time Warner International, president of AOLInternational and chief executive officer of AOL Europe.

Lynton andPascal will jointly run the motion picture group, reporting directly to SonyCorp of America chief executive officer and chairman Howard Stringer.

They will bothserve on the SPE operating committee headed by Stringer, together withworldwide marketing and distribution chief Jeff Blake, Sony Pictures Digitalhead Yair Landau, Sony Corp executive vice president chief financial officerRob Wiesenthal, Revolution Studios chief Joe Roth and Calley.

The Lyntonappointment comes out of the blue in that SPE has been promoting from within inrecent years and must rankle Blake and Landau who were previously both on anequal level with Pascal as vice chairmen of SPE but must now report to Lynton.

"The combinationof Michael Lynton, with his diverse global business and creative experience,and Amy Pascal, with her command of the motion picture process, brings togethera formidable partnership at exactly the right time," Stringer said in a statement.

"We have justenjoyed two record-breaking years at SPE and anticipate a brilliant 2004 with Spider-Man2, Bewitched and a greatslate of films. The studio is now in terrific shape, and we have a solidplatform on which to build our digital future."

"I am thrilled to join Sony Pictures and the team thatHoward and John Calley have put in place," Lynton added. "The fusion of contentand devices, together with the rapid globalisation of all forms ofentertainment, make this a defining moment for our industry."

Prior to TimeWarner the 43-year-old Dutch-born Lynton served as chairman and chief executiveofficer at Pearson's Penguin Group from 1996-2000 and president of Disney'sHollywood Pictures from 1992-96.