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Lions Gate shareholders elect company's 12 board nominees at ho-hum annual meeting

September 15, 2009 | 11:52 am

Lions Gate Entertainment's annual shareholders meeting in Toronto today was, as expected, a big yawn, with all 12 of the movie and television studio's 12 nominees, including Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns, elected to the board. Only two of them, Mark Rachesky, Lions Gate's largest shareholder, and Phyllis Yaffe, former chief executive of Canada's media company Alliance Atlantis, are new members. Lionsgatelogo

While the turnout of 40 to 50 shareholders was bigger than last year, when Lions Gate executives outnumbered the five shareholders who showed, it's unclear whether that was due to the usual ebb and flow of attendance or wishfull thinking by some that activist investor Carl Icahn might pull something out of his hat at the last minute. No such luck. Icahn -- who never came up with an alternative slate, as he had previously indicated he might after berating management for spending too much money -- was a no-show.

Also possibly contributing to the larger turnout of shareholders was curiosity to see Lions Gate's November release "Precious," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday night and was presented by executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. The gritty drama, which won top awards at this year's Sundance Film Festival and is being buzzed about as a potential Oscar contender, is about a pregnant, obese and mentally challenged teenager who struggles to turn her life around.

At the shareholders meeting, Feltheimer naturally took the time to tout the movie as well as the studio's next film in its popular "Saw" franchise, "Saw VI," which also opens next month, and a planned seventh installment, "Saw 7 in 3-D."

On the TV front, he noted that the company's cable show "Weeds" was picked up for a sixth season as it heads toward syndication, and "Mad Men" is poised for Sunday's Emmy Awards presentation with 16 nominations, including one for outstanding drama series.

"The growth of our television business has been anything but random," Feltheimer told the shareholders. "It was an integral part of one of our core values, diversification," and was the main contributor to Lions Gate's  higher-than-expected last quarterly results.

-- Claudia Eller

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