Producer Walter Parkes and his partner/wife, Laurie MacDonald, have closed a deal to move over to Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Parkes is taking the prexy spot that has been empty since Kathleen Kennedy left late last year (Daily Variety, Dec. 17, 1992). MacDonald’s title is still uncertain.
Apparently Spielberg likes to entrust Amblin, his film/TV mini-major, to married couples, since he founded it in 1984 with Kennedy and her husband Frank Marshall.
While Amblin officials would not confirm the deal, sources said the duo finalized an agreement after months of negotiations.
Neither the Yale-educated Parkes — who was in the midst of a casting session — nor MacDonald could be reached for comment.
Earlier this summer, Parkes and MacDonald signed a two-year first-look film deal to move their Aerial Pictures over to 20th Century Fox (Daily Variety, June 7). They also have an ongoing non-exclusive deal with Columbia Television.
Parkes’ producing credits include “Sneakers” and “Awakenings,” but his first big success was the techno-thriller “WarGames” in 1983, which he wrote with Lawrence Lasker. Along with last year’s “Sneakers,” that pic helped Parkes earn a reputation for high-tech stories.
More recently, he wrote the ABC mid-season drama “Birdland” in conjunction with Scott Frank, the scribe on “Little Man Tate.” Production starts later this month.
What sets “Birdland” apart from the cops, firemen and angst-ridden adolescents with whom it’s vying for mid-season sked space is the drama’s feature film pedigree. Brian Dennehy, anactor courted by all three webs for several seasons, is scheduled to make his network dramatic series debut as Dr. Brian Mckenzie, a shrink who plays the ponies — and his hunches when it comes to healing the mind.
“Birdland” is not Parkes’ first tumble into TV. After his legal-eagle feature “True Believer” exited the theaters, he produced the Treat Williams TV vehicle “Eddie Dodd” in the spring of 1991. ABC aired six episodes of the series.
Parkes first came to Hollywood’s attention after one of his first producing credits, “The California Reich,” was nominated for a documentary feature Oscar in 1975.
The mixture of film and television experience will come in handy at Amblin, which is not only responsible for the feature smash “Jurassic Park” and Spielberg’s upcoming drama “Schindler’s List,” but also the NBC series “seaQuest DSV,” and just about any other project — film, television, video or something else — that strikes Spielberg’s fancy. In addition, Amblin has been behind such projects as “Cape Fear” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
MacDonald is a former production veepee at Columbia Pictures. After collaborating on “True Believer,” the duo founded Aerial in 1991.
While terms of his deal at Amblin were not available, sources said Parkes would likely have a time frame within which to finish his other projects prior to moving over to Amblin.
Kennedy left Amblin in December 1992, joining husband Marshall in a three-year non-exclusive deal at Paramount Pictures. Marshall left Amblin in 1991.