DreamWorks taps Cooper for prod’n

Bob Cooper, former president of TriStar Pictures, has become head of production at DreamWorks, reporting to company principal Steven Spielberg and Walter Parkes. It was anticipated that Cooper, who will start in the post after Labor Day, might land there (Daily Variety, May 5).

The hire ends the company’s drawn-out search for a production head, which took more than a year of interviews with various executives. Among those who had been discussed for the post were Marc Platt, Donald DeLine, Stacey Snider, Amy Pascal, Michelle Manning, Barry Josephson and producer Mark Johnson (who instead signed a production deal with the company).

Cooper will oversee theatrical motion picture development and production for the company, which is aiming for seven to 10 movies per year.

Cooper left TriStar earlier this month after less than one year in the post. The relationship between Cooper and DreamWorks’ principals Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg started when Cooper was president of HBO Pictures. Both HBO and DreamWorks began developing an “Amistad” project simultaneously; ultimately, they combined their efforts.

“The fact that Bob was developing a script based on the same story that was the basis for Steven’s first movie at DreamWorks told us unequivocally that we share the same sensibility on the types of stories we want to bring to the screen,” Parkes said.

When Cooper became president of TriStar, DreamWorks feature film division co-heads Parkes and LaurieMacDonald got to know him as they dealt with him on the production of Amblin’s “The Mask of Zorro,” which stars Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. Parkes, MacDonald and Spielberg are exec producers on that pic.

‘Unique opportunity’

“When I was approached by them,” Cooper said, “I thought what an amazingly unique opportunity it was to work with the caliber of talent that is at the company and is available to the company. I also thought the atmosphere was great in that it wasn’t a mass production company. It has a family atmosphere and everything was about the work and the written word was the single most important thing. It’s about the script.”

Cooper made his mark at HBO with such reality-based stories as “Barbarians at the Gate,” “Citizen X” and “And the Band Played On.”

Parkes noted: “Laurie and I have had first-hand experience with Bob as producers, both at HBO and at TriStar. We’ve been impressed by this intelligence, directness and pure movie sense. We’re confident that he will bring these same qualities to bear as we continue to expand our level of production at DreamWorks.”

DreamWorks has three pictures going into production in the next seven weeks: the asteroid project “Deep Impact,” the Tom Hanks starrer “Saving Private Ryan” and the live-action/computer-generated imaging project about a talking parrot, “Paulie,” directed by John Roberts.

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