×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Milestone Award: Ron Meyer

Studio topper shows Universal appeal

Stability is often a foreign concept in Hollywood, where who’s in power and who’s not can change with each weekend’s box office grosses. But throughout his career, Ron Meyer has put a premium on it.

First appointed president and chief operating office of Universal Studios in 1994 (when it was still known as MCA), Meyer is the longest currently serving top studio exec in town — despite the studio having been bought and sold four times during his tenure.

That achievement is all the more notable when you consider who his bosses have been: first a Japanese electronics manufacturer (Matsushita, which bought U from Lew Wasserman in 1995); then Edgar Bronfman Jr., who was steering the family liquor business into the entertainment field; then Jean-Marie Messier, who wanted to transform a French water-treatment company into a high-tech media concern; then Barry Diller; then Jean-Rene Fourtou, brought in to clean up Messier’s mess.

But last year was a year of change for U. Meyer, who runs not only the film studio but also U’s theme park and production facilities division, tapped Marc Shmuger and David Linde to be, respectively, chair and co-chair after Stacey Snider’s departure for DreamWorks.

A raft of internal exec shuffles followed, including the creation of a new foreign distribution arm.

Meyer started his show business career after leaving the Marines in 1964. His first gig was as a messenger at a talent agency. Six years later he became a TV agent himself at William Morris, before leaving with four fellow tenpercenters to start CAA in 1975.

While fellow CAA founder Mike Ovitz created a long list of enemies during that era, Meyer probably has more folks who count him as their best friend than most people have on their Christmas card list. And though CAA is in different hands these days, Meyer, more than any of the founders, maintains the closest relationship with the agency.

To find a more successful agent who moved over to the buying side of the biz, you’d probably have to go back to Wasserman himself. Though he’s known as a relatively hands-off manager when it comes to his film production unit, Meyer’s long-running relationships with filmmakers are one of the studio’s most important assets.

The changing economics of the movie business may be creating some tensions at other studios, but Meyer continues to play it cool. In an appearance on AMC’s “Sunday Morning Shootout,” hosted by Daily Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart and veteran producer Peter Guber, Meyer remarked on Sumner Redstone’s decision to show Tom Cruise the exit at Paramount, “Frankly, I don’t understand it.” He then added, “Being an asshole doesn’t get you results.”

More Film

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan arrives at the

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Warner Bros.' 'Methuselah' Movie

    Michael B. Jordan will produce and star in a “Methuselah” movie for Warner Bros., based on the Biblical story of a man who lived to be 969 years old. Jordan will produce through his Outlier Society production company along with Heyday’s David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Warner Bros. has been developing the project for many [...]

  • Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping

    Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping Italy's Top Film Awards

    Piera Detassis recently became the first woman to head the David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Since then she’s been busy overhauling the inner workings of the prizes that will be awarded on Wednesday. Detassis, also the editor of Italian film publication Ciak, spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges she’s faced [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards

    Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards Race

    With 15 nominations Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman” leads the pack of contenders for Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in a watershed year for the country’s top film nods that sees highbrow auteur titles reaping most of the David love just as local box-office grosses hit an all-time low. Garrone’s gritty revenge drama is followed closely with [...]

  • steven spielberg Apple TV Plus

    Steven Spielberg's Apple Appearance Riles Up Social Media: 'Big Old Mixed Message'

    Many Hollywood heavyweights flocked to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to help reveal the tech giant’s revamped steaming service Apple TV+ on Monday — but one such legend was so polarizing he became a national trending topic on Twitter for simply showing his face. Steven Spielberg was the first to appear in a dramatic short film [...]

  • Michael Lynne

    Former New Line Co-Chairman Michael Lynne Dies at 77

    Michael Lynne, the former co-chairman of New Line Cinema who played a key role in shepherding “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has died at his New York home. He was 77. Lynne’s death was confirmed Monday by longtime business partner Robert Shaye, who told Variety that Lynne’s family had informed him of Lynne’s passing [...]

  • Marisa Liston

    Sony Veteran Marisa Liston to Lead Lionsgate Movie Publicity

    Lionsgate has named Sony Pictures veteran executive Marisa Liston to lead all feature film and motion picture group publicity and communications strategy. Liston, who departed Sony in late 2018 after 17 years, has been assigned the newly created title of head of global earned media and communications. She will oversee domestic and international feature film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content