Universal close to naming production head

Fox's Debbie Liebling in discussions with studio

Fox executive Debbie Liebling is in talks to step into the position of head of production at Universal Pictures, the seat vacated by Donna Langley, who was promoted to Universal Pictures' co-chairman.

Universal had been on the hunt for someone to fill the vacancy since early October, when Adam Fogelson and Langley replaced ousted chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde.

No deals are done, though Langley said in October that filling the post would be a top priority.

Universal's new production head faces a lot of challenges. The studio's movies, with the exception of "Fast and Furious 4" and "Couples Retreat," hit one bump after another this year. And Uni met with another setback this week when director Paul Greengrass exited the helming chair of the fourth "Bourne" movie, leaving that franchise adrift for the time being.

Liebling ran Fox Atomic until that unit was shuttered in April 2009, overseeing the production of movies such as "28 Weeks Later" and "The Rocker." When the unit was shut down, its remaining films such as "I Love You, Beth Cooper" and "Jennifer's Body" moved to Fox, where Liebling became executive vp production, serving under Emma Watts and Alex Young. Watts became Fox's sole production head last month, after Young resigned his post and moved into a producing deal.

Liebling came to Fox from Comedy Central in 2002 and shepherded films such as "Borat" and "Dodgeball" for the studio before moving to Atomic in 2007.