Par film ups Manning to prez of production

Michelle Manning has been named president of production for Paramount’s motion picture group, the studio confirmed Wednesday.

She will handle day-to-day management of the feature production department, including running development and production staff meetings. All physical production and creative staff will report to her.

Manning continues to report to John Goldwyn, who recently was upped to the newly created post of prez of Paramount Motion Pictures.

The move comes after months of speculation. It’s also expected that Don Granger, senior veep of production will be upped to Manning’s previous post of exec VP.

The news of Manning’s promotion was greeted with optimism by many producers on the Paramount lot. Manning, who has experience both as a producer and director, is highly regarded as a “filmmaker-friendly” exec with a keen eye for material.

“This is good news,” said one producer who asked not to be identified. “It will change a lot of things. Michelle understands material, and she pushes quality product. People will be more secure in bringing their project here.”

Added another producer: “She’s one of the few studio executives who has actually made movies and knows the whole process backwards and forwards.”

Although the deal was signed Tuesday evening after several months of negotiations, Manning began taking over the reins of the production division in March, when Goldwyn was moved up.

Goldwyn plans to shift his focus to Paramount’s long-term strategies, working in concert with Viacom Ent. Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen, motion picture group chairman Sherry Lansing and motion picture group vice chairman Rob Friedman.

“When you have really valuable executives, you do everything you can to give them the opportunities they deserve,” said Goldwyn.

Lansing added: “Michelle is incredibly talented and we’re looking forward to many more productive times together.”

Manning joined Par in 1991 as senior VP of production and was promoted to exec veepee in 1993.

At the studio, she has overseen production of such films as the multiple-Oscar winner “Forrest Gump,” “Beavis and Butt-head Do America,” “Mother” and “The Firm,” as well as the upcoming “In & Out” and “The Truman Show.”

Before going to Paramount, Manning was VP of production at Orion Pictures, where she served as production exec on “The Addams Family,” which was released by Par.

‘Breakfast’ with Hughes

As an executive of Ned Tanen’s Channel Prods., she produced John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.”

Manning began her career with Zoetrope Studios, where she was production supervisor of “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish,” both directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

She directed the feature “Blue City” for producers Walter Hill and William Hayward, as well as musical sequences for Hill’s “Another 48 HRS.” On the small screen, Manning directed episodes of “Miami Vice” and Par’s “Friday the 13th” series.

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