As expected, Lindsay Doran, 48, was named president of United Artists on Wednesday, filling the post vacated by John Calley.
Frank Mancuso, chairman of UA parent MGM Inc., closed the deal with Doran late Tuesday after pursuing the executive a few weeks ago when it was announced that she and her longtime partner, director Sydney Pollack, were splitting up.
Mancuso and Doran worked together at Paramount Pictures for five years in the late 1980s when Doran was a senior vice president of production and Mancuso headed the studio.
Mancuso said Doran’s hiring was fortuitous in that “it was one of those wonderful opportunities in life that she came available when we had a need for someone like her.”
Doran, who said she left her seven-year post as head of Pollack’s Mirage Enterprises “because it was just time for a change,” noted that although she had discussions with several other companies about potential jobs, UA “was a natural fit” because of her long-standing relationship with Mancuso.
“The advantages were clear,” Doran said. “There is a simple management structure, a mandate to make seven movies a year, which means you can actually read all the scripts, and Frank and I have similar tastes.”
During her tenure at Paramount, Doran was responsible for overseeing the development of such films as “Ghost,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Doran, who is widely respected in Hollywood, said that while people like to peg her “in a literary hole” since she produced Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” she likes to describe her tastes as “quite broad.”
Her other producer and executive producer credits include such movies as “Dead Again,” “Leaving Normal” and the Pollack-directed features “The Firm” and the remake of “Sabrina.” She also executive produced the HBO movie “A Private Matter” and produced Showtime’s anthology series, “Fallen Angels.”
The Los Angeles native attributes her diverse interests to her exposure to a great number of movies in her youth. Her late father, D.A. Doran, was a production executive at Paramount from 1940 to 1960. During those years, the studio made everything from Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedies to Elvis Presley pictures to such classics as the original “Sabrina,” “The Ten Commandments” and “Sunset Boulevard.”
The elder Doran began his career at Columbia Pictures under Harry Cohen and worked at MGM in the early ‘60s.
“It was clear to me growing up that it was possible to have strong feelings about making quality movies in all categories,” said Doran, who began her career at Avco Embassy Pictures, later Embassy Pictures, where she worked on the Rob Reiner-directed comedies “This Is Spinal Tap” and “The Sure Thing.”
With her new role at UA, Doran said, she doesn’t feel as if she’s starting with a blank slate, even though production must be geared up after stalling while MGM was being sold.
She said there are at least two movies ready to roll early next year, the 17th installment of the James Bond series and “Man in the Iron Mask,” which will be directed by Randall Wallace, who wrote “Braveheart.” There are three to five other projects in various stages of pre-production.
Moreover, there are some existing projects to be produced by Mirage that are already on the boards at UA.
Doran said she looks forward to working with the UA staff, which includes Pollack’s daughter Rebecca Pollack, and doesn’t anticipate any immediate changes.
“One of the things I learned from Frank Mancuso was when they change top management, you try to hang on to the people and projects that are there.”
And, she noted, if she had to inherit anyone’s staff and projects, “John Calley would be at the top of the list.”
Calley, who was part of the original management team at MGM/UA that helped resuscitate the studio with such hits as “The Birdcage” and “GoldenEye,” is headed to Sony Pictures Entertainment as the studio’s new president and chief operating officer.