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Ex-MGM Chief Ladd Heading New Company

Times Staff Writer

Italian financiers Giancarlo Parretti and Florio Fiorini, who took control of the troubled Cannon Group last year, have formed a new movie production company headed by former MGM Chairman Alan Ladd Jr.

The organizers of the new company, called Pathe Entertainment Co., declined to disclose the terms of the deal. But industry sources said Pathe would have more than $400 million at its disposal over four years for film making and acquisitions of studio facilities.

Interest in UA Division

One of those acquisitions could involve MGM/UA Communications, industry sources said. In recent months, Parretti and Ladd separately have expressed interest in buying all or part of that company. MGM/UA’s majority owner, Kirk Kerkorian, has officially put a for-sale sign up in front of his UA division.

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In a brief interview Monday, Ladd did not exclude the possibility that his financial backers would purchase that studio. “I don’t think (that will happen) at this point in time,” he said. “But anything’s possible.” Parretti is also rumored to be interested in the assets of De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August.

Despite a common ownership, Ladd said his new company will have no connection to the beleaguered Cannon studio, which reported a $21.6-million loss in the third quarter. Parretti took control of Cannon last April after agreeing to inject $100 million into the firm.

Ladd said that as chairman of Pathe Entertainment he plans to produce about four films a year with a range of budgets. He said he is negotiating with a major studio to distribute Pathe Entertainment’s films.

The hiring of Ladd--best known for ushering “Star Wars” through 20th Century-Fox when he was president of that studio--will ensure Parretti and Fiorini a much higher profile in Hollywood. Unlike Cannon, Ladd brings with him lengthy and strong ties in the established film community. “Laddie has talent and know-how, and he gets along with high-class people,” said producer Jere Henshaw, a former colleague.

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European Properties

Parretti has a variety of business interests in Europe, including banking, insurance, real estate and tourism. He recently acquired Pathe France, a communication company with a history as a prominent film studio.

But the Italian financier has indicated a desire to expand his business interests in Southern California. Parretti recently purchased an $8.9-million home in Beverly Hills.

Sources said Parretti had been pursuing Ladd since September, when Ladd resigned from MGM. At the time, Ladd attributed his departure to uncertainty surrounding the studio’s future. But he also was known to be angered by Kerkorian’s cost-cutting moves, including the termination of contracts with several prominent producers closely allied to Ladd.

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Ladd will be joined in his new venture by Jay Kanter, who resigned his position as production president at MGM several weeks ago. Kanter, along with Gareth Wigan, formed a partnership with Ladd in 1979 called the Ladd Co. That company released such films as “The Right Stuff,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Blade Runner” and “Once Upon a Time in America.”

Another Ladd protege, marketing president Greg Morrison, was fired from MGM/UA last week. There is, as yet, no word on whether Morrison will join the new venture.


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