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Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke will now also run MGM Studios

Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

LOS ANGELES — Amazon Studios is giving its studio chief Jen Salke a much larger Hollywood role.

In addition to running Culver City-based Amazon Studios, Salke has been tapped to oversee the iconic MGM Studios, which Amazon acquired in March for $8.5 billion.

In her newly expanded role, Salke will now oversee MGM's scripted television and film business, as well as its distribution and creative marketing operations.

"Jen's outstanding reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood's top talent throughout the industry," wrote Mike Hopkins, Amazon's senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, in a staff memo Tuesday night. "With Jen now having oversight of both studios — along with distribution and all creative marketing — creatives will have a single point of entry for the opportunity to showcase their content across all our platforms."

The promotions come as the competition among streamers continues to be intense as they compete for content and customers. Unlike many other platforms, Amazon Prime Video is one of the benefits that come with Prime membership — which includes other perks such as free shipping and music streaming.

The company made a big bet launching the epic fantasy series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," spending more than $700 million on the show's first season, including buying the TV rights, according to people familiar with the budget who were not authorized to comment.

As part of its MGM purchase, Amazon also operates premium TV network Epix, which will be renamed MGM+ next year. Chris Brearton, who was running the business side of MGM, is now vice president of Prime Video and Studio corporate strategy, MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television, and will report to Hopkins.

Brearton will be responsible for "accelerating the rebrand and spearheading the growth of the MGM+ premium service, while also working closely with the seasoned MGM unscripted television team to continue their legacy of megahits, such as 'Survivor,' 'Shark Tank' and 'The Voice,'" Hopkins wrote.

 

The promotions mark the latest executive change at Amazon since the MGM acquisition.

On Monday, the company said Mark Burnett, MGM's television president for eight years, left the company to resume work as an independent creator and producer. Other MGM executives had also exited after the purchase.

Among other organizational changes to Salke's leadership team: Vernon Sanders, head of TV at Amazon Studios, will now also oversee scripted MGM television with Lindsay Sloane and Rola Bauer.

And Sue Kroll, Amazon Studio's marketing head "will add MGM to her purview," Salke said in a staff memo. MGM's Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Bruno will report to Kroll.

"These are dynamic times for all of us in the entertainment industry," Salke wrote in the memo. "And here at Amazon and MGM Studios, we have the best leaders, creatives, and talent in the business. I am proud to be a part of this amazing organization and look forward to all that we can — and will — do together."

When Amazon announced the MGM deal, the company said it wanted to mine the storied studio's vault for reboots, remakes and other franchise opportunities. MGM has a long legacy of filmmaking, with titles including "The Pink Panther" and "Thelma & Louise."

However, many of the most famous titles MGM produced in its heyday, such as "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz," are no longer owned by the company, and many of its best known works have been exploited for attempted franchises.

©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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