Taylor ankles Lion’s prexy post

Exec needed to o'see new pix to replenish library

Lending more credence to predictions that MGM is on its way back to becoming an active production entity, prexy Dan Taylor announced Thursday that he’s resigning, effective Tuesday.

Move comes amid rumors that MGM topper Harry Sloan has been interviewing several seasoned production execs to fill the No. 2 spot at the Lion, most notably former DreamWorks Chief Operating Officer Rick Sands.

Whoever takes over, it’s clear Sloan, who was named CEO and Chairman of MGM in October, is looking for someone who can oversee production of new movies to replenish the Lion’s vaunted 4,000-title library.

Taylor, who moved into the prexy post from a position as Chief Financial Officer, was tapped to manage the library, which has become private company’s main purpose since it was acquired by a consortium of investors including Sony and Comcast last year.

In practice, however, his job has consisted largely of overseeing massive transition of MGM into a much smaller company, with many of its operations integrated with Sony. Transition has included layoff of about 1,000 employees, bringing the total number down to around 400 today.

“Dan Taylor has done an excellent job in overseeing one of the most complex transactions ever completed by a Hollywood studio,” said Sloan. “Also, after the sale of MGM, Dan was successful in planning the implementation of the structural transition of our business operations, which was an incredibly difficult process. He has given us a clean slate to build a powerful content-driven, entertainment concern.”

After “The Pink Panther” remake is released next month, MGM is co-producing just a handful of pics with SPE including “Casino Royale” and “Rocky Balboa,” both sequels to Lion library properties.

Under contract with its owners, MGM can stop distributing pics through Sony as early as April. Even if Sloan hires a new deputy and builds a production team quickly, Lion can’t realistically produce any new pics it might distribute itself until 2007 at the soonest.

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