Michel Lecourt, Vice President & General Manager, French-Speaking Territories, Warner Bros. International Television, and founder of the company’s French operation nearly four decades ago, died today (February 8) after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 58. In October 1967, an 18-year-old Lecourt—while still studying cinema at the French Independent Conservatory in Paris—began working as the assistant to Richard Wilkes, who, at the time, served as the sales agent for Warner Bros. in Paris, selling the television rights to the Studio’s feature films, television series and animated product to French broadcasters. Lecourt was instantly identified as a smart and aggressive young executive, and the company tapped him to establish Warner Bros.’ television business in France. Lecourt began his lengthy and influential television career at a time when European television was still broadcast in black and white, and France's second network had only been in existence for three years. During his nearly four decades with the company, he was an instrumental part of managing Warner Bros.’ television business during an explosion of growth in the television sector, including the addition of five more broadcast networks, privatization of the industry, the introduction of hundreds of channels available via cable and satellite, home video, pay-per-view, VOD and emerging technologies such as the Internet and wireless. Lecourt also created and developed the locally hosted classic animation block known as the “Warner Hour,” which served as the prototype for a format which the company went on to roll out in several territories throughout the world. His passion for animation was rewarded with a French Emmy Award in 1991 for the Warner Hour’s “Decode Pas Bunny” (Canal+) and a second French Emmy in 2004 for the cult favorite “Ca Cartoon” (Canal+). “During his many years with the company, Michel’s name became synonymous with Warner Bros.’ television business in France and throughout Europe,” said Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. “He was the consummate executive, an astute businessman and a great ambassador for Warner Bros. Our company is better for his having been a part of it, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family.” Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, President, Warner Bros. International Television said: “Michel was a unique individual: a French citizen with a love of the American old west and cowboy lifestyle; a European who always drove a big American car through the streets of Paris; and a true fan and expert on American cinema and animation with a special passion for the Looney Tunes. He was a valued member of our team and will be terribly missed on both a personal and a professional level.” Lecourt is survived by his wife, Natalie, and two teenage daughters, Nina and Anouk.
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