Anthony Thomopoulos has announced his resignation as chairman of United Artists, one of two movie production units of MGM/UA Communications, which has seen an exodus of top executives in the past two months.
The Beverly Hills-based entertainment company has been in internal turmoil since at least mid-July, when controlling shareholder Kirk Kerkorian disclosed plans to split the company again and sell a 25% interest to industrialist Burt Sugarman and producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber. MGM/UA Chairman Lee Rich left just before the restructuring plan fell through in late July.
Alan Ladd Jr., who was Thomopoulos’ counterpart at the helm of MGM, departed two weeks ago. Ladd later said he left “because of the uncertainty that has been going on here a long time.”
Thomopoulos, 50, said nothing publicly on that point, preferring to leave on an upbeat note. “I just thought it was time for me to move on,” he said in a telephone interview. “I think I’ve made a terrific contribution, not only in past pictures but pictures coming up.”
He added that he is interested in “branching out, perhaps into some entrepreneurial situations, which I am examining.”
Thomopoulos, former president of ABC Broadcast Group, joined Kerkorian’s cadre at the new United Artists in late 1985, after the financier sold MGM to Turner Broadcasting System. Kerkorian later bought back MGM minus its famed Culver City studio and its film library.
Before the recent problems, both the MGM and UA entities had been achieving some measurable success in movie making. Thomopoulos noted that during his tenure UA had made “Baby Boom,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” “The Living Daylights” and “Betrayed.”
Under Ladd, MGM had presided over the making of “Moonstruck,” “Willow” and “A Fish Called Wanda.”
Thomopoulos, whose departure followed by a month that of UA President Roger Birnbaum, cited several UA movies “with wonderful potential” scheduled for release between November and next summer.
Stephen Silbert, a longtime Kerkorian attorney who succeeded Rich as MGM/UA chairman, said: “Although Tony’s move was not unanticipated, we accepted his resignation with regret. Tony has shepherded some major projects through UA over the past three years. We wish Tony well in his future activities.”
Thomopoulos has agreed to remain a consultant to the corporation until the conclusion of his contractual obligation.