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by Eugene Hernandez
December 16, 2005 7:49 AM
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Vitale Joins First Look Pictures As Company President

Ruth Vitale, pictured at the Spirit Awards in March. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

Just weeks after leaving Paramount Classics, the studio specialty division that she ran with David Dinerstein for nearly eight years, Ruth Vitale has announced her new job as president of First Look Pictures. At the company, Vitale will run the First Look's theatrical division and work closely with First Look International as well as its U.S. video and DVD distribution arm, First Look Home Entertainment. That unit recently acquired the DEJ Productions, including the DEJ library, from Blockbuster, Inc. She will report to First Look Studios CEO Harry Winterstern.


During Vitale's time at Paramount, which she joined when it launched in 1998, the studio's classics division acquired and released such films as "Hustle and Flow," "Mad Hot Ballroom," and "You Can Count On Me," among many other films. The unit saw change recently when a new regime at the studio decided to shake-up the division. Agent John Lesher was named the new head of the company, which is expected to change its name and focus.


First Look Studios, with a library of some 700 titles, recently hired Andy Gruenberg as executive vice president of theatrical distribution and Ken DuBow as executive vice president of world wide sales.


"To be a part First Look as they experience this great deal of growth is very exciting," said Ruth Vitale, president of First Look Pictures. "Under Henry's leadership we intend on positioning the company as the premiere force in independent film."


Prior to her time at Paramount,Vitale previously served as president of Fine Line Features, releasing such films as "Shine," "The Sweet Hearafter," "Love! Valour! Compassion!," and "Don Juan DeMarco."


Upcoming First Look projects include Nick Mastandrea's "The Breed," to be released next year, John Hilcoat's "The Proposition" which will be at the Sundance Film Festival and Larry Clark's "Wassup Rockers" which will open the Slamdance Film Festival next month.

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