As expected, Glenn Williamson - a former senior production executive at DreamWorks SKG - has joined USA Films as president of production, succeeding Donna Gigliotti who is leaving after two years to return to producing.
Gigliotti will continue to work with USA through the release of the last two productions she oversaw for the company - Robert Altman's Gosford Park which is scheduled to open on Dec 21, and Neil LaBute's Possession starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart which was recently moved from 2001 to an early 2002 release date.
Williamson will start the job as of next week in a role which was specially created for Gigliotti by USA Films chairman Scott Greenstein. He will be based in USA's Beverly Hills offices and will report directly to the New York-based Greenstein.
He was at DreamWorks for four years, where, most notably, he brought into the company Alan Ball's spec script for American Beauty which went on to gross over $250m worldwide and win five Oscars in 1999. He also supervised Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, Sam Mendes' recently completed Road To Perdition, Gore Verbinski's The Mexican and Bronwen Hughes' Forces Of Nature - based on Williamson's own story idea.
He has recently been working on the development of The Tuxedo to star Jackie Chan, Catch Me If You Can which still has Leonardo DiCaprio attached and Walter Salles' The Assumption which will star Juliette Binoche and Benicio Del Toro.
Williamson began his career with DreamWorks co-heads Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald when the two were producers at Sony-based Aerial Pictures. He joined them when they moved to Amblin Entertainment and then when Amblin was absorbed into DreamWorks.
"Everyone at USA Films is thrilled that Glenn will be joining us here," said Greenstein in a statement. "Having Glenn join USA Films is a truly rewarding moment in our still-early evolution: he has worked on many of the best films of the past few years, and has the respect and admiration of the entire industry. Donna Gigliotti has been a significant asset to USA Films and our first full slate of productions. We all wish her great success in her future endeavors, and look forward to continuing to work with her closely."
It's been a curious year for USA Films. Starting with the huge box office success of Traffic - the company's first and to date only $100m-plus hit - and its four-out-of-five Oscar wins, it was then struck by the departure of president Russell Schwartz for New Line Cinema and the resignation of Gigliotti.
Furthermore only last month, British TV executive Michael Jackson was appointed chairman and CEO at USA Entertainment Group by USA Networks chief Barry Diller, giving Jackson control of Diller's networks as well as Greenstein's USA Films. It is thought Jackson, who maintained a hands-on approach with the FilmFour unit of Channel Four, will be similarly intimate with USA Films.
Meanwhile, rumours around Hollywood have former MGM worldwide marketing chief Gerry Rich in talks to take over Schwartz's marketing role.
USA Films was formed by Diller by merging Gramercy Pictures, October Films and certain domestic assets of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, companies he acquired from Universal Pictures in 1999, and USA Home Entertainment.
USA's upcoming schedule includes Joel & Ethan Coen's The Man Who Wasn't
There and Gosford Park before the end of this year, and new films from Labute, Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) and Billy Bob Thornton (untitled project with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz) in 2002.