Alan Ladd Jr. has made his expected move to Paramount Pictures, where he has signed an exclusive three-year pact to develop and produce movies (Variety, Aug. 16).
The deal for Ladd, who was ousted as MGM chief in July, was finalized late Wednesday night. According to highly placed sources, the pact was put together in less than 48 hours by a team that included Paramount’s exec VP Bill Bernstein and ICM’s Guy McElwaine and Jim Wiatt.
Ladd is ending up at the former home of Frank Mancuso, who re-placed Ladd at MGM/UA. Mancuso ankled as Paramount chairman in 1991.
Paramount chairman Sherry Lansing said Ladd’s “relationships, unique industry experience, and remarkable successes” convinced her to try to secure his services as an independent producer.
“He’s a seasoned and talented executive,” added Par’s Motion Picture Group production president John Goldwyn. “He comes to the studio with talent relationships that will help our company.”
This is not the first time Ladd has entered the world of independent production. In 1979, he founded the Ladd Co. and set up shop on the Warner Bros. lot.
At Paramount, where Ladd will be based, he will have to get projects approved before beginning production. Under the earlier deal at Warner Bros., Ladd had thepower to greenlight films, which were distributed by Warner’s.Among the films produced were the Academy Award-winning “Chariots of Fire,””The Right Stuff, “”Body Heat,””Blade Runner” and the “Police Academy” series.
Ladd says he isn’t a bit bothered about losing the power of his former position at MGM/UA.
“I feel good about the whole thing,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me about Paramount having a say on projects. I don’t want to make a picture nobody over there wants. It’s time that I can do things I want to do and not worry if the bank will guarantee an actor’s salary.”
For Paramount, which is trying to ramp up its production slate to turn out at least 25 films a year, the addition of Ladd to the studio’s producer roster was seen by industry observers as a smart move.
“He has extraordinary taste and great talent relationships,” said a Paramount producer. “That’s just what it takes to be able to turn out several films a year. While he might not have been able to do it while running MGM, it won’t be a problem now that he can concentrate on just making films, which he was not able to do at MGM.”
Ladd said he intends to produce at least four films a year under the new pact , although he isn’t sure what his first film will be.
Asked if he considered taking another executive position, Ladd replied, “There was no interest whatsoever. I’ve been doing it too long. It’s too painful. This is the ideal situation. It’s also a huge weight off my shoulders not having to be involved in all of the politics.”
Although Ladd has worked with a number of executives over the years, it is doubtful that any of them will be following their former boss to the Paramount lot.
“I won’t be bringing my former staff over,” he said. “Altogether, I will probably have a staff of seven or eight people, including secretaries.”
Ladd’s longtime friend and associate Jay Kanter, MGM’s chief operating officer, will probably stay at that studio. Ashley Boone, another longtime colleague, is not expected to join the new Paramount indie either. Ken Meyer tendered his resignation at MGM the day after Ladd’s settlement with the studio was announced.
“A majority of the people I will bring aboard will be new. I will be bringing in younger people with new ideas who know some of the new territories,” Ladd said. “I will be starting fresh.”
Ladd, who left his position as chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. in July, had held that post since November 1990. During his tenure, MGM produced only one certifiable hit: “Thelma and Louise,” with a domestic gross of $ 45.3 million.
In 1989, he was named co-chairman of Pathe Communications Corp., and chairman and CEO of Pathe Entertainment.
Before that, Ladd was president and CEO of MGM/UA Entertainment Film Corp. from 1985 to 1988. In 1986 he was upped to chairman of the board and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. During that tenure, he was responsible for such screen successes as “Moonstruck” and “A Fish Called Wanda.”
Before running the Ladd Co., he was an executive at 20th Century Fox, starting there in 1973 as head of feature creative affairs. He rose through the ranks as vice president and VP of worldwide production and was finally named president of 20th Century Fox Pictures in 1976.
Among the films for which Ladd was responsible as Fox chief were the blockbusters “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back.”
His father was the motion picture actor Alan Ladd, who was under contract to Paramount for more than 15 years.