Exec to return to post as line producer

Don Zepfel, exec VP of physical production for Universal Pictures, is ankling the post he has held for the past four years.

Zepfel, who has worked for more than 20 years in various capacities on the Universal lot, said he intends to return to his roots as a line producer.

“I intend to go back into line producing, possibly here at Universal, if the right project comes along,” Zepfel said.

While a successor to Zepfel has not been named by the studio, sources indicated that Ron Lynch, a senior vice president at the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group, is the top candidate.

U brass could not be reached for comment regarding Zepfel or Lynch. It’s unclear why Zepfel is leaving the company, although sources said that, in keeping with the high-pressure physical production post, the exec was being held accountable for some recent cost overruns on U films.

Zepfel has served as the studio’s top physical production exec since 1995. Before that he served for five years as vice president, reporting to Donna Smith.

Zepfel first joined the physical production staff at U in 1988. Since then, he has overseen the productions of such pics as “Jurassic Park,” “Apollo 13,” “In the Name of the Father” and “Twelve Monkeys.”

Zepfel first drove onto the U lot as an employee in 1974, when he served as an assistant director trainee on the TV series “McMillan and Wife.” He segued to feature films, working in the same capacity on Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, “Family Plot.” As an assistant director and production manager, Zepfel worked on “Jaws 2,” “MacArthur” and “Heartbeeps.”

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