Michael MacMillan, co-founder and chairman of Alliance Atlantis Communications, on June 1 made way for Phyllis Yaffe to succeed him as CEO of the Canadian specialty channel broadcaster and co-producer


TORONTO (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Michael MacMillan, co-founder and chairman of Alliance Atlantis Communications, on June 1 made way for Phyllis Yaffe to succeed him as CEO of the Canadian specialty channel broadcaster and co-producer of the "CSI" franchise.

MacMillan will become executive chairman of Alliance Atlantis, leaving the day-to-day running of the broadcaster to Yaffe.

The latest corporate reorganization at Alliance Atlantis completes an impressive rise up the corporate ladder for Yaffe, who originally joined then-film and TV producer Alliance Communications in 1994 as president of its broadcasting arm.

In 1998, MacMillan, who co-founded film and TV producer Atlantis Communications in 1978, merged his company with Alliance to form Alliance Atlantis Communications.

In 2001, Yaffe became CEO of the broadcasting division at Alliance Atlantis, which soon after abandoned film and TV production to focus on owning and operating Canadian specialty TV channels.

Yaffe subsequently became the company's COO in April 2004, overseeing Alliance Atlantis' 12 specialty channels. Alliance Atlantis also co-produces the popular "CSI" franchise with partner CBS Prods. and has a 51% stake in Motion Picture Distribution, an independent movie distributor in Canada, Great Britain and Spain.

As executive chairman, MacMillan said he will devote more time to "thinking about what future moves we should make."

"I'm not retiring," he said. "I'm a crappy golfer. And I'm not selling the company. What this does reflect is, we're really excited about the broadcasting business."

MacMillan said Alliance Atlantis saw future growth in high-definition TV, video-on-demand, content branding and other new digital business streams.

Yaffe's promotion follows veteran telecommunications executive David Lazzarato on June 1 succeeding W. Judson Martin as executive VP/CFO of Alliance Atlantis.

Martin -- who worked closely with MacMillan to restructure Alliance Atlantis' debt burden, get the company out of film and TV production and spin off its movie distribution business -- decided to leave the company over health concerns.

In March, Alliance Atlantis reorganized its equity ownership structure to reflect the departure in December 2003 of company co-founders Seaton McLean and Peter Sussman.

MacMillan and McLean control Alliance Atlantis through a holding company that retains 66.7% of outstanding voting shares in the Canadian broadcaster.