Company Town : Ziskin to Head Fox Production Unit; Increased Output Sought

After weeks of speculation, producer Laura Ziskin was officially named Monday to run a new mainstream film production unit at 20th Century Fox that is aimed at boosting the studio’s output by as many as 12 movies a year.

Ziskin, whose credits include “Pretty Woman,” “No Way Out” and “Hero,” had been rumored for some time to be moving to Fox to run the unit, which has yet to be named. Fox said it expects the unit to come up with eight to 12 films a year.

The deal is part of a major push by Fox to boost its output to about 30 films a year, in part to funnel more product into parent News Corp.'s huge global television empire.

In addition to the new Ziskin-run unit, Fox recently formed a family films unit, as well as Searchlight Pictures, which will produce and distribute films aimed at adults.


Ziskin’s division is expected to operate in concert with the current production unit run by Tom Jacobson. Fox Chairman Peter Chernin said the separate unit is being set up because boosting production under Jacobson could stretch the operation too thin. He added that Jacobson was involved in the process and that the new unit will not diminish his authority.

* MCA Records has named Larry Jacobson director of recording administration and Chris Edwards director and administrator for soundtracks.

* Rhino Records named Jenni Sperandeo national manager of radio and video promotion and William Smith promotion coordinator.

* The Agency for the Performing Arts named Stuart Miller executive vice president and Jim Kellem and Lee Dinsman senior vice presidents.


* Vision International has named Zsuzsa Cziraky vice president of acquisitions and marketing and promoted Ted Perkins to director of international sales.

* Virgin Records named George Maloian director of creative projects.

* MGM/UA Telecommunications named Bill Lee senior vice president for worldwide pay television.