Ladd in MGM prod’n deal

MGM Pictures’ David Ladd, a member of one of Hollywood’s most familiar families, is leaving his post as executive vice president of production, reinventing himself as an independent producer exclusively for the MGM and UA film units, the studio announced Thursday.

The move ends Ladd’s 8-1/2-year stint as a studio production exec for MGM, where he shepherded numerous films through the company, including the hit “Get Shorty.”

‘Driving passion’

“For me, this is a tremendous opportunity to pursue what has been my driving passion for years,” said Ladd. “My last contract was running out — I felt I had achieved all I could as a production executive, and this was a good time to go out.”

Under the terms of his new pact, Ladd will stay on in offices at the MGM Plaza in Santa Monica, producing films and bringing projects to MGM Pictures president Michael Nathanson and UA Pics’ president Lindsey Doran.

Ladd said he looks forward to the increased involvement in the creative process he’ll have in his new capacity.

“The hardest part of being a production executive at a studio comes when a movie sets sail and you’re left behind,” said Ladd. “So the exciting thing is that I get to go on the cruise with everyone else now.”

Ladd will continue to supervise projects he began at MGM, including the courtroom thriller “Red Corner” starring Richard Gere. As an independent producer, he’ll immediately start work on several projects, including “The Cell,” “Talbot,” “The Mod Squad” and a remake of “Fortune Cookie,” starring Bette Midler and Candice Bergen in the lead roles.

Ladd — the younger brother of former MGM chief Alan Ladd Jr. and son of late actor Alan Ladd Sr. — joined MGM in 1989 as veepee of production, and was later promoted to senior veep. During his tenure as a production exec, Ladd shepherded such films as “Cutting Edge,” “Untamed Heart,” “Diggstown” and “Mulholland Falls.”

Not the first time

This is not the first time Ladd has undertaken a major career change. An actor for 20 years, Ladd started performing in movies at age 8, frequently co-starring with animals. “I did a lot of boy-and-his-horse and boy-and-his-dog movies,” he said. “I even did a boy-and-his-fish movie once.” (That memorable film was called “Raymie and the Barracuda,” he said.) He also earned a Golden Globe for his role in “Proud Rebel,” and starred in such films as “Dog of Flanders” and “Misty.”

Ladd then moved behind the lens, independently producing the film “The Serpent and the Rainbow,” as well as several TV specials and telefilms.

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