EXCLUSIVE: Hours after Deadline revealed the impending exit of New Regency chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker, I’m told that former Paramount Pictures production president Brad Weston is in deep negotiations to run the production/financing company as president/CEO. That is a position similar to the one held by Sanford Panitch before he left to run Fox International Productions. The chairman post that will be vacated by Harper and Parker will be filled by majority owner Arnon Milchan, who is really planning to roll up his sleeves and become way more involved than he has been in the past few years.
Weston is an experienced production executive who, before Paramount, ran Dimension Films with Andrew Rona, (who after starting the Rogue genre label for Universal is currently running Joel Silver’s company at Warner Bros). The big question is whether Milchan will be willing to put ain the time and the daily grind that is necessary to run a major production/financing company like New Regency, where Harper and Parker oversaw everything from production to marketing, distribution and the library. Rupert Murdoch tried a hands on approach years ago after Barry Diller left, but it is a tough thing to sustain when there are other businesses to run. Of course, Milchan owns 80% of New Regency (Fox is a part owner of the company), so he has the right to run things if it pleases him.
I’m told that Milchan missed those early days, when he was in the middle of daring, filmmaker-driven fare that included pictures like the David Fincher-directed Fight Club, the Michael Mann-directed Heat, the Curtis Hanson-directed L.A. Confidential, the Sergio Leone-directed Once Upon a Time in America, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, the original Elie Chouraqui-directed Man on Fire, Oliver Stone’s JFK and Natural Born Killers, and the Danny DeVito-directed The War of the Roses. Those kind of memorable films are harder to make now than ever, but Milchan has the resources to take those risks and he’ll spend a majority of his time in Hollywood trying to make more of those kinds of filmmaker-driven pictures, along with the commercial big swings as well.
Weston transitioned into a producing deal when he left the Paramount executive suite. He is involved in a bunch of movies, including Paramount’s upcoming Footloose remake. But he’s a well regarded executive and it would not be a surprise if his deal makes and he resurfaces in a major job like this. As for Harper and Parker, Harper told me last night that both of them will stay involved in the four films that Regency will release this fall, along with some of the fast tracked projects they put togehter, including the Darren Aronofsky-directed Biblical epic Noah at Paramount, the James Gray-directed Brad Pitt-starrer The Gray Man, and the Doug Liman-directed Luna, also being done with Paramount. Stay tuned.