Former Hard Rock Cafe International president and chief executiveofficer James Berk has joined LA-based Participant Productions as chiefexecutive officer.

The appointment ends a lengthy search by Participant chairman andfounder Jeff Skoll and president Ricky Strauss to find a suitable executive toreplace Skoll as chief executive officer.

Berk will assume day-to-day executive leadership and management ofthe company, including overall strategy, operation of Participant and its relateddivisions. He will also be responsible for expanding the core theatricalbusiness into other media, and developing the corporate profile.

'Given our commitment to build a global media company focusedon the public benefit, we unanimously found that Jim encompasses the qualitieswe were looking for in a leader,' Skoll said.

'[He's] an entrepreneurial, accomplished business executivewith broad entertainment, brand and media experience who not only understandsand exemplifies our mission but recognises that leading our company can be aunique opportunity to change the world.'

'I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work withJeff Skoll and the talented team at Participant, a company which has thecapacity to entertain, enlighten and empower change,' Berk added.'Jeff's vision of harnessing the power of media to create positive socialchange and long term commitment to this goal is enormously compelling forme.'

At Hard Rock Cafe International Berk oversaw worldwide operationsin 29 countries for the core restaurant and retail chain. What would also haveappealed to Skoll's philanthropic nature was Berk's role in charge of HardRock's humanitarian arm Save The Planet Foundation.

Berk is a founding executive director of the National Academy ofRecording Arts and Sciences, and previously served as chairman and chiefexecutive officer of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, a private equity companyoperating for-profit post secondary education schools.

Participant'scredits include An Inconvenient Truth, Good Night, And Good Luck, Syriana,North Country, and thedocumentary Murderball.Upcoming releases include Fast Food Nation.