Sherri G. Sneed is out to help make Magic Johnson a successful producer.

Sneed is the new president of Magic Johnson Entertainment, the ex-Lakers star's 2-year-old production company. Sneed, who reports directly to Johnson, will spearhead independent film and TV projects.

"We have great brand identity," she said. "We can become the prominent supplier of quality for the African-American market, because we have the theaters and we've paved the way for the natural connection to the film market."

Magic Johnson Entertainment has so far produced the documentary "Magic vs. Bird: The Game That Changed the Game" and the movie-of-the-week "Passing Glory." Both were based around basketball themes, but the current slate being developed will have nothing to do with the sport.

Sneed wants to develop shows that don't perpetuate stereotypical images.

"We're trying to provide some images that will give a balance and show the diversity of culture," Sneed says. "I want to provide that balance. But TV is such a closed-door environment, it's difficult to get through those barriers."

Magic Johnson Entertainment will maintain considerable creative control over most of its feature-film productions because it doesn't need to sign distribution deals with the studios movies can be distributed through Johnson's own theaters.

"When you have a studio deal, they control the images and delegate how much money you'll get," Sneed says, "I don't have to get approval of images if we approve it, I can control image project and have ownership of the negative."

Sneed, 39, comes to Magic Johnson Enterprises from Tim Reid Productions, where she was vice president of development. Before that, she was vice president of production at United Image Entertainment and director of business affairs for John Singleton's New Deal Productions. High school classmate Spike Lee helped Sneed get started in the movie business by giving her a job as production secretary on "Jungle Fever."

Before entering the entertainment business in 1989, Sneed was a securities dealer and a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch. She was also vice president of the mutual funds department with Philips Appel & Walden Inc.

Jolie Gorchov

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