Persistent exec named head of production

Producer Judd Payne has been tapped head of production at Wind Dancer Films.

Payne is charged with bringing projects into the company and producing along with Wind Dancer principal Matt Williams, a longtime TV writer-producer and creator of “Roseanne” and co-creator of “Home Improvement.”

Wind Dancer expanded into film in the late ’90s, producing titles such as Nancy Meyers’ “What Women Want,” starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, and the Williams-helmed dramedy “Where the Heart Is,” with Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd.

Company recently set up a development fund for high-concept comedies and production financing for comedies and dramas under $20 million.

Payne exits indie shingle Persistent Entertainment, where he and partner Matthew Rhodes produced 11 films together over the past six years. Among them, they just wrapped what was likely their toughest production: David O. Russell comedy “Nailed,” which was hampered by several guild shutdowns related to financier Capitol Films’ liquidity woes. With Mandate Pictures, they also produced Rodrigo Garcia’s Anne Hathaway starrer “Passengers,” set for release in October via Sony.

Persistent and Wind Dancer teamed a few years ago to produce Williams’ “Walker Payne,” starring Jason Patric.

Williams founded Wind Dancer Prods. in 1989 with partners David McFadzean and Carmen Finestra.

Before joining Persistent, Payne was a VP at the Steve Tisch Co. He started his career in the William Morris mailroom.

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