Ray taking reins as United Artists topper

Exec is currently head of features at Crossroads

October Films co-founder Bingham Ray will become the new head of MGM specialty division United Artists, with a deal expected to be signed later this week.

Ray is currently the head of the feature division of Gotham-based video and commercial production shingle Crossroads Films, which signed a three-year first-look deal with UA in May (Daily Variety, May 30).

It is unclear exactly what Ray’s appointment will mean for Crossroads, which planned to produce two films per year budgeted at $3 million-$15 million for UA to distribute in North America.

Even more important, however, is how Ray will reshape UA, a shingle that has been without an official head ever since former prexy Lindsay Doran stepped down in June 1999 to take a production deal at MGM — the same time that MGM repositioned UA as the studio’s specialized division.

For the last two years, UA’s de facto chiefs were MGM distribution prexy Larry Gleason and marketing president Gerry Rich. However, they exited their posts last month and were replaced with Bob Levin, who took the title of MGM’s president worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution (Daily Variety, June 22)

At October, Ray released such award-winning pics as “Life Is Sweet,” “Secrets and Lies,” “Breaking the Waves,” “The Celebration,” “Joe Gould’s Secret” and “The Apostle.”