Universal Shake-Up: Liebling Out, Cramer & Kirschenbaum In

On the Monday following a huge box-office triumph, production president Debbie Liebling is fired; Jeffrey Kirschenbaum and Peter Cramer to take over as co-presidents of production

Last Updated: May 2, 2011 @ 11:49 AM

A day after the studio's"Fast Five" enjoyed the biggest box-office opening of the year, Universal production president Debbie Liebling has been shown the door.

She'll be replaced by Jeffrey Kirschenbaum and Peter Cramer, who will assume the titles of co-president.

Liebling arrived at Universal just 18 months ago, having overseen a number of comedy hits, including "Borat" and "Dodgeball" at Fox, replacing Donna Langley, who was moved up to the co-chair slot alongside chairman Adam Fogelson.

“Over the past 18 months, as we refined our process, it became clear that a different structure would better suit our needs going forward,” said Fogelson and Langley, in a joint statement. “The new structure will have a smaller executive team with broader responsibilities. Debbie has been a good leader and strong contributor through this transition period and we wish her well in her new endeavors.”

More to come … Here's the full studio press release:

NEWS RELEASE

  

UNIVERSAL PICTURES PROMOTES CRAMER AND KIRSCHENBAUM TO CO-PRESIDENTS OF PRODUCTION

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, May 2, 2011 – Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley today announced that the studio is restructuring the Universal production team.  Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum will be elevated to theshared role of Co-Presidents, Production, and current President of Production Debbie Liebling will be leaving to pursue other opportunities.

;Over the past 18 months, as we refined our process, it became clear that a different structure would better suit our needs going forward,” said Fogelson and Langley.  “The new structure will have a smaller executive team with broader responsibilities.  Debbie has been a good leader and strong contributor through this transition period and we wish her well in her new endeavors.”

Fogelson and Langley said that the evolving needs of the department prompted them to make this change.  They, along with their business leaders Rick Finkelstein and Jimmy Horowitz, have taken a hands-on approach to running production – one that is consistent with the new leadership structure they put in place today.

“Peter and Jeff are strong leaders with complementary strengths, and that will help us to achieve the right balance between managing the group and working on specific films.  We’re thrilled they have accepted the role of co-presidents.”

Cramer, who currently serves as Senior Executive Vice President of Production, came to Universal in 2005 and was promoted to Senior Executive Vice President in January 2010.  He has achieved success with his work on American Gangster and The Adjustment Bureau.  He is currently overseeing the studio’s upcoming films Safe House, Ted, The Bourne Legacy, Savages and American Reunion.  Before joining Universal, Cramer was an Executive Vice President at New Regency.  There, he oversaw the worldwide blockbuster Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  Cramer is a graduate of Harvard University. 

Kirschenbaum is currently Executive Vice President of Production, and has been with Universal since 2001 when he started as Director of Development.  He served as the production executive on Universal’s highest opening film of all time, Fast Five, and also on Universal’s highest grossing film of 2009, Fast & Furious.  He also worked on Universal tentpolesWanted, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and The Bourne Ultimatum.  Kirschenbaum is currently involved in the production of Battleship, Snow White and the Huntsman and47 Ronin.  Before coming to Universal, he spent three years as an executive at Mace Neufeld Productions.  He is a graduate of UCLA and received his M.F.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute.

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