HOLLYWOOD — The embattled Entertainment Industry Development Corp. has tapped veteran Hollywood exec Lindsley Parsons Jr. to serve as interim president for six months. He will start work next week.
Parsons replaces Cody Cluff, the film-permitting agency’s former president, who ankled Dec. 23 amid a criminal investigation for alleged misuse of $700,000 in public funds. Probe by the L.A. District Attorney’s Office remains active, although no charges have yet been filed.
Parsons’ four-decade resume includes stints as prexy and CEO of Lucas Digital, president of Intl. Film Guarantors, exec production posts with MGM and Paramount, exec producer at Universal and Finnegan Pinchuk Co. and prexy of the California Film Commission.
“He’s just a superior guy, and everyone is elated over the choice,” said Keith Comrie, the former city administrator who has been overseeing an audit of the EIDC.
MPAA backs Parsons
The EIDC’s exec committee voted unanimously Monday to appoint Parsons, 72, following a push by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
“We strongly recommended his candidacy and believe he is well qualified to manage EIDC while the audit is being completed,” said Melissa Patack, the MPAA’s VP of California government affairs. “We look forward to being part of the restructuring of this office, which is so important to film and TV production in Los Angeles.”
Prior to being appointed in 1964 to his first studio exec post at MGM, Parsons worked as a freelance assistant director, unit manager, production manager associate producer and executive in charge of production.
DGA Western exec director G. Bryan Unger said the guild was pleased about the appointment.
“This agency plays a very important role in the entertainment industry’s efforts to attract and keep filmmaking in Los Angeles,” Unger said. “We have every confidence that he will bring all the energy and creativity to the job that it deserves.”
Parsons will not be eligible for the permanent position to replace Cluff. Part of his duties will include defining the specific job requirements of the EIDC president and searching for candidates.
Cluff’s resignation pact included the agreement that Cluff and the city and county of Los Angeles would not sue each other for civil damages.
Appointment of Parsons is another step in revamping the structure of the 8-year-old agency. The EIDC’s reputation has been tarnished due to disclosures of Cluff using EIDC coin to make $200,000 in political donations; buy $350 bottles of wine as well as cigar club memberships; make $5,000 donations to his children’s high school; and make a $10,000 donation to the Pittsburgh film office — all with no scrutiny by the EIDC’s board and exec committee.
Cluff has defended the spending as legal, contending the EIDC is a private agency. He also has insisted the expenditures were appropriate as part of a strategy to entertain producers and fulfill the EIDC’s mission of slowing down runaway production.
The EIDC has an annual budget of about $3 million and acts as a conduit between government agencies and producers seeking to film on public property. Before Cluff departed, the exec committee barred any further political contributions, hired Comrie and agreed to pay KMPG nearly $300,000 to perform a comprehensive review of the EIDC.
KMPG began its review last month; it is expected to take several more months to complete the audit.