Feeling the entrepreneurial tug, David Friendly is leaving his post as prexy of Davis Entertainment to form his own production banner, Friendly Prods., with an exclusive three-year deal with Fox 2000.
Although the deal is termed exclusive, if the Laura Ziskin-run unit passes on a project, Friendly is free to take it to any of the other three Fox film divisions (Fox proper, Fox Family Films and Fox Searchlight).
“My criteria for a producer is someone who can both develop and produce,” said Ziskin. “David has experience doing both these things and has proven he has an appetite to be a producer in his own right.”
Friendly’s banner officially bows Sept. 1, a day after his three-year contract with Davis Entertainment expires. Since joining company topper John Davis in 1994, Friendly has gained producing credits on such films as “Out to Sea” and the now lensing “Dr. Dolittle” for Fox, “Courage Under Fire” for Fox 2000 and “Daylight” for Universal.
“I was very encouraging to David to seek a production opportunity for himself,” said John Davis. “I definitely think he is ready for this and he will do well.”
Friendly said he and Davis have 21 projects they were developing at Davis Entertainment and will continue to work on together.
A former journalist, Friendly spent six years as a staff writer at Newsweek and two years at the L.A. Times.
In 1987, Friendly joined Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment as a VP of motion pictures. He moved up the ranks, becoming production prexy in 1991. At Imagine, Friendly worked on such films as “Backdraft,” “Kindergarten Cop,” “The Dream Team” and “The Burbs.” He also served as exec producer on “My Girl,” “Greedy” and “The Chamber.”
Friendly says he will be looking to hire a VP-level exec, and possibly another junior exec as he ramps up his office on the Fox lot.
Friendly’s deal was brokered by his attorney David Nochinson at Ziffren Brittenham with Steve Bersch of Fox business affairs.