Parent-al guidance for MGM

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Former Universal head of production and producer Mary Parent has been named chairman of MGM's worldwide motion picture group.

In her new role, Parent will oversee the studio's worldwide theatrical production, distribution, marketing and business affairs. She will report to MGM chairman and CEO Harry Sloan.

MGM has not had anyone in this role since 2004, when the Lion was helmed by then-CEO Alex Yemenidjian and COO Chris McGurk.

The appointment of Parent at MGM leaves her long-time industry partner Scott Stuber as the sole principal in Stuber/Parent, the production entity the duo co-created in 2005 when they segued from running Uni's film production arm.

"I think this opportunity speaks for itself. This role really is an opportunity of a lifetime — an opportunity to be part of this journey," Parent told The Hollywood Reporter.

Stuber, who has not yet decided how to modify his shingle, described Parent as the right person to lead MGM's production efforts.

"Her work ethic and determination is second to none and losing is not something she likes to do," Stuber said. "It's a good time to bring some vibrancy into this town."

During her tenure as vice chairman of worldwide production at Uni, Parent became a highly regarded executive before forming the production shingle.

While at Uni, she oversaw the planning, development and production of the studio's annual slate of films, including the commercially successful "Meet the Parents," "Meet the Fockers," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy."

Her appointment marks a big step forward in establishing MGM as a major studio with commitment to developing, producing and releasing a full slate of motion pictures. Parent's numerous ties to industry creatives will greatly assist in that effort.

"Mary is just unbelievably hard-working and unrelenting and she's got great relationships," said DreamWorks co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider, who worked with Parent for several years when both were at Uni. "She really understand as much as anyone I've ever met the need to strategize on how to get a movie made. In terms of revitalization and executing on that plan, you need a person with great energy and stamina and she has it. She's a powerhouse."

Said producer Gary Ross, who worked with Parent at New Line, "I can't think of a person more qualified to take on this challenge."

During their three years as an indie outfit, Stuber took the lead role in putting together "The Kingdom," "The Break-Up" and the upcoming "Wolfman"; Parent spearheaded Peter Jackson's "Halo" project, which subsequently fell apart.

While Parent will not take any of her former projects from Stuber/ Parent with her to MGM, she said that in terms of production, MGM has a committed budget and aims to have the buy-to-make ratio as high as possible.

"The idea is to have the right mix and the right number," Parent said. "We'll be concentrating across the board, considering films of every shape, size and genre. It's about the material itself as opposed to fitting it into a formula."

Sloan, who said MGM is in the midst of an evolutionary process, moving from its initial revitalization effort into the next phase of growth and development, said the studio was fortunate to have Parent's production expertise, relationships in the creative community and distribution and marketing savvy.

"As we commence production on some of the biggest film franchises in Hollywood, we are fortunate to be able to enlist Mary to spearhead what promises to be MGM's most exciting period yet," he said.

Sloan, who took leadership of MGM in October 2005, has been steadily rebuilding the studio — an effort that began with distribution, television and video operations. In November 2006, he brought in Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner to helm the new United Artists, which was backed by a $500 million production facility from Merrill Lynch. More recently, Sloan navigated two deals with Jackson based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."

Parent, who joined Universal in 1997 as a senior vp and eventually became vice chairman in 2003, said her appointment to MGM comes at a great time for the business.
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