×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Frank Yablans, Former Paramount President, Dies at 79

Frank Yablans, the president of Paramount Pictures during the fertile early ’70s era that produced films including “The Godfather” and “Chinatown,” died of natural causes Thursday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his son, ICM Partners agent Eddy Yablans. He was 79.

Renowned for a hearty sense of humor and temperamental outbursts, Yablans was later COO of MGM/United Artists and co-wrote the screenplay for “Mommie Dearest,” which he also produced.

Born in Brooklyn, Frank Yablans was brother of producer Irwin Yablans. He got his start in showbiz working for Warner Bros., Disney and Filmways, and in the late 1960s became exec VP of sales at Paramount, where he worked on marketing the hit film “Love Story.”

The success of the tearjerker led to his being named president of the studio in 1971; he held the post until 1975. Yablans was a pioneer in advocating wide openings on films like “The Godfather,” which opened on 350 screens across the country rather than just on a few screens in New York and Los Angeles, which was the custom at the time.

During that period, the studio had a run of groundbreaking films including “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Goodbye Columbus,” “True Grit,” “Serpico” and “Paper Moon.” The studio’s TV operations started to grow during that period with such hits as “Happy Days.”

Popular on Variety

As recounted in former Paramount head of production Robert Evans’ book “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” Yablans engaged in an intense fight over deal terms on “Chinatown,” which was one of the factors that led to his dismissal as president of Paramount. Evans had negotiated a piece of the gross of that film (while still head of production), and Yablans wanted to share 50-50. He was replaced by Barry Diller.

Kirk Kerkorian brought him on as vice chairman and chief operating officer of MGM from 1983 to 1985, but despite Yablans’ efforts to reduce costs by combining the historic studio with United Artists, the studio continued to face financial trouble.

He produced numerous films independently, including “Congo,” “Silver Streak” and “The Other Side of Midnight.” He also co-wrote “North Dallas Forty.”

He later founded Promenade Pictures to produce faith-based family entertainment such as the “Epic Stories of the Bible” series and was a producer on the “Rome” TV series.

He is survived by three children, four grandchildren and his longtime companion Nadia Pandolfo.

(Peter Bart contributed to this report.)

 

 

More Film

  • Jojo Rabbit Movie 2019

    Potential Best Picture Nominees Find Humor Among the Drama

    At an early screening of “Bombshell,” which chronicles the Fox News sexual harassment scandal, director Jay Roach was nervous. Writer-producer Charles Randolph says it was because of the audible audience reaction: “It’s just too much laughing!” For many of this year’s prominent Oscar contenders for best picture, one of the most important questions is how [...]

  • Luxor

    Totem Films Nabs Zeina Durra's Sundance-Bound 'Luxor,' CAA Handles North American Rights

    Totem Films has acquired international sales rights to Zeina Durra’s “Luxor,” which will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. CAA is representing North American rights. The film, which stars Andrea Riseborough (“Black Mirror”) and Karim Saleh (“Transparent”), marks Durra’s follow up to her 2010 feature debut [...]

  • After Class

    Film Review: ‘After Class’

    Arguably the best thing about “After Class,” a purposely untidy and exceptionally intelligent dramedy about frayed family ties and academic contretemps, is writer-director Daniel Schechter’s refusal to ever let his protagonist off too easy. To be sure, lead player Justin Long’s graceless-under-pressure Josh Cohn comes across as more clueless than unsympathetic, less chronically selfish than [...]

  • Aubrey Plaza Spirit Awards

    Aubrey Plaza Returning as Indie Spirit Awards Host

    Aubrey Plaza will return to the white tent on Santa Monica beach to host the Film Independent Spirit Awards for the second consecutive year. Now in its 35th year, the ceremony honoring the year’s best independent cinema will be held on Feb. 8. The 2020 celebration will broadcast live on IFC. “Like all great independent [...]

  • New Republic Pictures

    'Suspiria' Producer Bradley J. Fischer Joins New Republic as President

    Bradley J. Fischer, whose credits include “Zodiac,” “Black Sawn” and “Suspiria,” is joining Brian Oliver’s New Republic Pictures as president and chief content officer. Fischer has signed a multi-year pact with Paramount-based New Republic. Fischer and Oliver will produce all New Republic projects, including film, television and streaming. Fischer will continue to produce his pre-existing projects, [...]

  • Alfre Woodard

    Alfre Woodard Reflects on Her First Oscar Nomination and Her Career So Far

    When Alfre Woodard was 22, she drove from Boston to Los Angeles, only stopping in her Tulsa, Okla., hometown. The four-time Emmy winner, now 67, has been acting ever since. Woodard’s career began in theater, despite her inability to sing or dance, with help from late choreographer Lester Wilson. An early play, “So Nice, They [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content