Chernin taps Dylan Clark for post

Universal exec to run film division of new co.

Peter Chernin has hired Universal Pictures production executive VP Dylan Clark to run the film division of his new company.

Clark will begin in October. Chernin’s company opens shop in late June.

Clark has been at U for eight years in production. He will transition to producer and steer the feature division of Chernin’s company, a job that was highly coveted among the town’s film executives.

Chernin, who stepped away from his News Corp. executive job at the height of his game, has the relationships and reputation to draw top filmmakers to his Fox-based shingle. At a time when studios are cutting back producer pacts, Chernin is positioned to make a lot of movies, with two put pictures per year for the next six years of his Fox deal. He will receive a first-dollar gross draw that is as high as any studio-based producer in town, which will put him on a shortlist for the best scripts from agencies that routinely service plum projects to first-dollar gross producers and commission them as part of the deal.

At U, Clark supervised such U films as “Dawn of the Dead,” “Friday Night Lights” and the upcoming Michael Mann-directed “Public Enemies.” He will continue to shepherd films that include the Ridley Scott-directed Robin Hood film that stars Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett; the Vince Vaughn starrer “Couples Retreat,” the Paul Greengrass-directed Matt Damon starrer “Green Zone,” and the Greg Mottola-directed comedy “Paul.”

“It has been a great eight years at Universal,” Clark said. “While I’ll miss working day to day with my friend Donna Langley and her team, I’m incredibly excited to apply the skills I’ve acquired here to this new and unique opportunity with Peter Chernin.”

Chernin chose former NBC programming exec Katherine Pope to run the TV side of his shingle several months ago (Daily Variety, March 1). Pope impressed Chernin last year when she was considering her options for moving on from NBC and was pushed out as prexy of the Universal Media Studios production arm in a December shakeup of the Peacock’s top ranks.

Pope quickly landed in the 20th Century Fox TV fold as consulting producer on the Tim Roth starrer “Lie to Me,” and her strength is shaping ambitious series concepts with scribes, as she did when she worked on the development of “Heroes” with Tim Kring.

Pope’s deal with Chernin hasn’t yet been completed, but the two have been quietly meeting with select network chiefs to gauge the appetite for development and signal Chernin’s seriousness to become a player in primetime production.

Chernin’s strategy was to recruit strong chiefs for his film and TV businesses because he intends to simultaneously involve himself in entrepreneurial endeavors, possibly with venture capital partners, as well as philanthropic campaigns like the Malaria No More org, of which he is chairman.

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