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Whitaker: Time for ‘Rebirth’

Kim Roth to succeed exec as president

Jim Whitaker, the longtime president of motion picture production for Imagine Entertainment, is stepping down from his post to focus on a directing career that begins with “Project Rebirth,” a 9/11 documentary he began working on six months after the World Trade Center attack.

Kim Roth has been upped to president, and Imagine topper Brian Grazer will hire an executive to work with her in steering the film division at a busy time for the Universal-based production company.

Whitaker spent the past 15 years at Imagine. He has been president since 2004, shepherding and exec producing Imagine films “Changeling,” “American Gangster,” “Friday Night Lights” and “8 Mile.” He worked on “Project Rebirth” during his spare time.

Whitaker will continue work on prepping the upcoming Russell Crowe starrer “Nottingham,” which Ridley Scott will direct, and then will spend the next six months in an editing room working on his film.

“When Jim said he wanted to be a director, I readjusted his deal so he could try, while working on our projects,” Grazer said. “Now, he’s shot a ton of film he has to cut and transform into a narrative.”

Whitaker said that his docu focuses on the healing process that took place after the World Trade Center attacks of 2001. That process involves people as well as Ground Zero. Whitaker mounted multiple cameras at different vantage points above the site. Those cameras have shot a frame every five minutes since six months after the buildings collapsed.

“I’ve also followed 10 people who cover a broad spectrum of those affected in very different ways,” Whitaker said. “I’ve interviewed them once per year and filmed milestones in their lives. The film is about healing, and, by year seven, these people are in such different places in their lives that it was clear to me that it’s time to finish.”

Imagine expects to begin production on several films that will likely include “Trump Heist,” a Brett Ratner-directed comedy to star Eddie Murphy. Grazer and partner Ron Howard are also ramping up for the summer release of “Angels and Demons,” which Howard directs.

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