Franklin Leonard, the founder of Hollywood’s influential Black List that ranks the best unproduced screenplays of the year, has been forced out of his post at Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, according to sources close to the executive.
Leonard, who declined to comment on the development, had been employed by Smith’s company as a production executive for the last two years. He shared the title of vice president of creative affairs with Caleeb Pinkett, the brother of Smith’s spouse Jada Pinkett.
It’s unclear where Leonard, who previously worked at Universal Pictures, will head next. But his work on the Black List has become more extensive in the last year as he launched a paid membership website that allows users to receive recommendations for additional scripts that fit their interests.
The Black List began as a lark in 2004, when the young Harvard grad queried other development executives for recommendations of good scripts to read over the holiday break. He put the responses into a rough list and emailed it back to those who participated. The Black List was born.
Since then, the annual compendium has taken on great importance, used throughout the industry as a barometer of quality material. Agents clamor to get their clients on the Black List and Hollywood awaits his annual notice.
It’s likely Leonard will take on another full-time gig within the Hollywood system, but until then the Black List should keep him plenty busy.
The news was first reported in the Wrap.