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NEWSMAKERS

NEWSMAKERS

Making Playboy’s Film Slate More Family-Friendly

Jill Liberman is helping Playboy slip into something it’s typically not known for clothing.

Recently promoted to vice president of production for Alta Loma Entertainment, a two-year-old subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises International, Liberman will lead the company’s efforts to produce more PG-style entertainment programming.

“We’re producing television shows and feature films that target a mainstream audience,” Liberman said, who joined Alta Loma a year and a half ago from Fox Broadcasting Co.’s original movies group, where she managed the story department.

The first project, “Girl Next Door: The Search For a Playboy Centerfold,” was co-produced with Bunin-Murray Productions, creator of MTV’s “The Real World,” and aired on Fox last May. It is now being distributed internationally.

“The Playboy brand has enormous international appeal, so we know that Alta Loma projects also have great potential abroad,” Liberman said. “That’s an additional revenue stream for the company.”

Alta Loma also is co-producing a feature bio-pic based on the life of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner with Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures.

There are plans to produce films and television not associated with the Playboy brand, although the slate so far has been tied to the parent company. Liberman said the association with Playboy, a symbol of adult male entertainment, hasn’t affected how Alta Loma is received in the business.

“We’ve faced challenges every producer in town faces,” she said. “Having the power of Playboy behind me helps because everyone knows the brand, and they realize that with the Alta Loma division we’re trying to do something a little bit different. We’ll branch out into different types of reality and lifestyle shows.”

Liberman lives in Santa Monica with her husband.

Koula Gianulias

Accounting

Grant Thornton LLP, a global accounting, tax and business advisory firm, announced the addition of two senior executives. Sheldon Johnson has joined as a business development executive in the Los Angeles office. He previously was director of business development at RSM McGladrey Inc. Art Hobba, also based in Los Angeles, will be Southern California director, practice development. Hobba was previously a managing principal at Accsellerate.

David Thaw has joined Rothstein Kass & Co. as senior tax manager for National Real Estate Group. He previously worked as a senior tax manager in the real estate department of Ernst & Young. Thaw will be based in the firm’s Beverly Hill’s office.

Banking

IndyMac Bancorp Inc. has appointed Richard Sommer president of Loanworks, a division originating loans from the real estate community. Sommer previously was president and managing director of Homestore International.

Construction

William O. Lewis has joined Bremco Construction Inc. as vice president and general manager of its Long Beach office. He formerly was vice president and general manager of the Austin Co. Bremco provides architecture, engineering and construction services to industrial and commercial clients.

Aerospace

Bombardier Flexjet, a fractional jet ownership company, has appointed Victor Collins to Southwest coast sales director. Collins will be responsible for Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico sales activities and client relations. He previously worked for CPMG Consulting as director of West Coast business development.

Northrop Grumman Corp. has appointed Mary A. Simmerman vice president of materiel for the company’s integrated systems unit in El Segundo, which deals with military command and control systems, as well as combat systems. Simmerman most recently was vice president, supplier management and procurement at Boeing Space and Communications Operations.

Entertainment

Universal Music Group has promoted Chuck Ciongoli to executive vice president and chief financial officer for North America. Ciongoli, who will be based in Santa Monica, will oversee all finance activities, performance monitoring, accounting and reporting for all North American divisions, including manufacturing, distribution and music publishing. He previously was senior vice president of finance.

Starz Encore Group LLC, a provider of movies on cable, satellite and broadband platforms, has named Dan Kendall division vice president, DirecTV, Starz Encore’s second largest distribution account. Kendall, who will be based in the company’s El Segundo office, previously worked for iBlast Inc. as vice president, network distribution.

Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Worldwide, has promoted Len Klatt to the newly created position of senior vice president, director of research. Klatt will continue to manage research operations and strategies for all Premiere Radio Networks. He previously was vice president, director of research.

The American Film Institute has named Phillip Linson vice dean, production and post production of the AFI Conservatory. Linson will oversee all AFI conservatory production operations, staff, planning and resource development. He joined AFI in 1999 as director of the AFI Sony Video Center.

Robert L. Novak has joined ESPN Radio 710 in Los Angeles as a sales specialist. He will handle advertising sales for the station and was previously director of sales at Engage Media Inc.

Creative Artists Agency has hired Kevin Gelbard to develop corporate partnerships for clients, focusing on opportunities in the music arena. Gelbard previously worked for Anschutz Entertainment Group’s Envision subsidiary as vice president of sales.

Megatrax Production Music, a supplier of original music for film, television, advertising and multimedia, has named Benjamin Trust to the newly created position of general manager. Trust, a former vice president of sales and marketing at Counterpoint Systems Inc., will oversee all business, sales, and distribution operations of the company.

Education

Shirley A. Corpuz has been appointed business manager of Pasadena Unified School District. She will be responsible for working with the District’s principals and other staff members on analyzing and monitoring their budgets. Corpuz is a former fiscal services manager for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

David W. Oxtoby has been named president of Pomona College in Claremont. He is dean of physical sciences at the University of Chicago, and will assume his new duties July 1. Oxtoby will succeed Peter W. Stanley, who will be retiring after 12 years as president.

Finance

The Los Angeles chapter of the Financial Planning Association has elected Robert Pagliarini to the board. He will be responsible for managing the affairs of the chapter and promoting financial education and awareness to consumers, as well as providing education to other advisors. Pagliarini is executive vice president at Allied Financial & Consulting Services.

Bank Leumi USA has appointed Ana Blumberg Markus as a financial consultant and vice president. Based in the Beverly Hills branch, she will focus on customizing investment services and managing assets for the bank’s clients. Blumberg-Markus previously was vice president of investments for RBC Dain Rauscher.

Law

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP announced Robert A. Darwell, Benjamin R. Mulcahy and Shaun C. Clark have joined the firm’s entertainment, media and communications unit as partners. They will be based in West Los Angeles.

Marketing

Allison Withers has joined Wilkin Group, a marketing, advertising and public relations agency, as director of public relations. Withers will lead the agency’s expanding public relations department, including strategic planning, media relations and corporate communications. She previously was an account supervisor with Bohle Co.

David Auerbach has been appointed president and chief operating officer of Connect3 Systems Inc. in Cerritos where he will be responsible for daily operations and strategic business development. He formerly was president and chief operating officer of TCI Solutions. Connect3 provides software that assists retailers in planning their advertising, merchandising and promotions.

Non-Profit

Catherine Kort has been promoted to director of major gifts for Hollygrove Children and Family Services in Hollywood. She will oversee the agency’s Circle of Angels annual giving campaign and assist with planned giving and other special projects. Kort has been with the agency for seven years and previously was assistant director of development.

Real Estate

Lee Black has been named managing principal of Newmark & Co. Real Estate’s Los Angeles office where he will serve institutional and corporate clients. Before joining Newmark, he was executive director at Cushman & Wakefield.

Technology

Claude Miller has been named president and chief executive of Alpha Therapeutic Corp., a developer of biopharmaceutical products. He will be responsible for the day-to-day operations while also focusing on strategic planning and future development. Miller joined the company in 2000 and previously served as chief operating officer.

Steven Woolford has been promoted to worldwide managing director of Zentropy, an Internet professional services company. He will oversee the integration of the offices in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Woolford joined Zentropy in 2000 as managing director of the Los Angeles office.

Market Scan Information Systems, a provider of financing software for automotive dealers, has announced the promotion of two senior executives. David Bartels has been named vice president of sales, responsible for national sales operations of the company, including field and inside sales, and working with customer support. Frank Ah Sue is the new national director of customer support, and will manage the company’s customer support, technical support and integration teams. They both joined the company in 1999.

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