Peter Schlessel Named President, Columbia Pictures As Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach are Named Co-Presidents of Production


Amy Pascal, Chairman of Columbia Pictures, and Vice Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, has promoted three key lieutenants who helped guide last year's record-breaking performance for the studio. Peter Schlessel has been named president of Columbia Pictures, and Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach have been named co-presidents of production for the studio.

"These promotions recognize the pivotal role that each of these executives made to Columbia Pictures' history-making success last year," Pascal said.

Fueled largely by Columbia Pictures' performance at the box office, Sony Pictures Entertainment generated more than $1.57 billion in domestic ticket sales during 2002, an all-time industry record.

In his new capacity, Schlessel will continue to oversee the day-to-day activities of the production team. In addition, he will assume oversight of the administrative and operational functions of Columbia Pictures, including the business affairs unit. He will report to Pascal, who will continue to determine which projects are ultimately put into production. Tolmach and Belgrad will report to Schlessel and coordinate the development and supervise the production of 12-15 feature films each year.

"Peter is an exceptional leader and he has been a great partner in managing the day-to-day operations of Columbia Pictures," Pascal said. "He not only has impeccable taste as a creative executive, but also possesses a keen understanding of the complexities of all forms of deal making, including international co-financing and co-productions, which are vital to Sony Pictures Entertainment's global reach. This promotion will further allow him to assist me as we lead Columbia Pictures into the future."

"As for Doug and Matt, they are the perfect pair to lead our development team. They have worked collaboratively together for many years and they are a true partnership of equals with a record that speaks for itself," Pascal continued. "Last year, Doug was responsible for 'Men in Black II' and 'Mr. Deeds,' and Matt was responsible for 'Spider-Man' and 'The Panic Room.' It's clear that Columbia Pictures would not have enjoyed the best year in its history without their contributions."

"Peter, Matt and Doug have earned this opportunity and as their respective roles expand, I couldn't be more excited about our upcoming slate or more confident in the leadership we have at Columbia Pictures," said John Calley, Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Upcoming films from Columbia include "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu; "Bad Boys II," directed by Michael Bay and starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence; "S.W.A.T.," starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell; Robert Rodriguez's "Once Upon A Time in Mexico," a sequel to "Desperado," starring Antonio Banderas as the mythic hero El Mariachi; Tim Burton's "Big Fish," starring Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney; an untitled Nancy Meyers comedy starring Jack Nicholson; and "The Amazing Spider-Man," directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.

Tolmach and Belgrad will oversee the production team and story department. The team includes Amy Baer, Executive Vice President of Production; Andrea Giannetti, Senior Vice President of Production; Rachel O'Connor, Vice President of Production; Vice President of Creative Affairs Karen Moy; Director of Development Shannon Gaulding; and Creative Executive Jonathan Kadin.

Peter Schlessel was named President of Production for Columbia Pictures in July, 2000. In collaboration with Pascal he has overseen the creation and development of Columbia's theatrical motion picture slate. Mr. Schlessel joined Columbia TriStar in 1989 and has held a number of positions at the studio.

Immediately prior to assuming his present title he spent five years as both Executive Vice President, Acquisitions, Production and Business Affairs of Columbia TriStar's Motion Picture Group and Executive Vice President of Screen Gems.

Prior to that he was Senior Vice President of Columbia TriStar Home Video, where he participated in more than 1,000 third-party acquisitions for Columbia TriStar, representing Sony Pictures Entertainment in all rights acquisitions as well as overseeing local acquisitions, overseas productions, multi-picture output deals and filmed entertainment product for the children's market.

Mr. Schlessel's other positions while at Columbia TriStar included Vice President of Business Affairs and Director of Legal Affairs.

Mr. Schlessel is a 1983 graduate of Union College. After receiving a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1986, he joined the law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. He spent three years at the firm before joining Columbia TriStar.

Doug Belgrad was named Executive Vice President of Production at Columbia Pictures in 1999. He has supervised the production of the upcoming releases "National Security," starring Martin Lawrence; "Identity," starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet; the suspense thriller "Basic," starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson; and "Bad Boys 2," which will reunite Will Smith and Lawrence with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay. In addition, Belgrad is overseeing such future projects as the romantic comedies "51st Kisses," starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore; "Last First Kiss," which is being developed for Will Smith; the epic "Hannibal;" the screen adaptation of the popular comic "Powers;" a sequel to "Anaconda;" John Singleton's action/adventure "Sinbad;" as well as feature film versions of the TV series "Bewitched," "The Lone Ranger" and "I Dream of Jeannie."

Belgrad has previously been involved in the production of such films as "Men in Black," "Big Daddy," "Anaconda," "Hollow Man," and "Bad Boys."

Mr. Belgrad graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 with a B.A. in history. He began his career at Kidder, Peabody as a securities analyst, specializing in media and entertainment companies. He joined Sony Pictures in 1989 as a management associate, an executive training program where he worked primarily in strategic planning and business development.

Matt Tolmach was named Executive Vice President of Production in November, 1999. He had been appointed a Senior VP of Production in 1997. At Columbia Pictures Mr. Tolmach has overseen the development and production of a series of films enormously popular with audiences, both young and old, including "Spider-Man," "Spice World," "The Panic Room," "Ali," and "A Knight's Tale."

He is currently devoting his attentions to "The Amazing Spider-Man," which Columbia Pictures will release during the summer of 2004, as well as a film version of the popular comic "Ghost Rider;" the thriller "Secret Window Secret Garden," written and directed by David Koepp from a Stephen King novella; an untitled comedy starring Reese Witherspoon; "Static," produced by Neal Moritz; and "Warrior," to be directed by Rob Cohen.

Tolmach graduated from Beloit College with a B.A. in English Literature in 1986. He began his career as an agent trainee at the William Morris Agency and later ran Michael J. Fox's production company before joining Amy Pascal as Vice President of Production and eventually Senior Vice President of Production at Turner Pictures.

The Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company. Sony Pictures' global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home video acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, development of new entertainment products, services, and technologies, and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries.

Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at .

  For more information, contact:

   Steve Elzer
   Senior Vice President, Media Relations
   Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group
   (310) 244-7142

SOURCE: Columbia Pictures

CONTACT: Steve Elzer, Senior Vice President, Media Relations of Columbia
TriStar Motion Picture Group, +1-310-244-7142,

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