Participant Media has set as its new CEO David Linde, the former Universal Pictures co-chairman who’ll take the job November 1. It puts Linde back in the big game after Participant chairman Jeff Skoll parted ways with Jim Berk and started the search for a CEO who could amplify the company’s Hollywood presence. Linde, long considered a smart, decent executive, gives Skoll an exec capable of helping him realize the ambitions of making projects with positive messages. Among the big-picture initiatives is bankrolling Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks. Participant is a producer on Spielberg’s new film Bridge Of Spies.
While the new job will take his focus, Linde is making it clear he will continue to be actively involved with Lava Bear, the film shingle he established after leaving Universal. He will work with Lava Bear’s president and partner Tory Metzger on the company’s 2016 release slate. It is unclear at this point whether that means Metzger will take the reins of the company in November. The Lava Bear slate includes The Forest (Focus Features), Shut In (EuropaCorp), Desierto (STX Entertainment), and Story Of Your Life (Paramount). There are about 15 projects in development at Lava Bear.
In Linde, Participant is getting an exec with a strong grasp of the global picture. While running Universal alongside Marc Shmuger, Linde had a strong hand in the international picture, and championed films including The Bourne Ultimatum, American Gangster, and Mamma Mia! He led the effort when Universal acquired foreign on Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
Participant’s got numerous films in the awards-season mix, including the Tom McCarthy-directed Spotlight, the Cary Fukunaga-directed Netflix theatrical release Beasts Of No Nation, Spielberg’s Bridge Of Spies, David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis and the Bernardo Ruiz docu Kingdom Of Shadows. Participant also has its TV network Pivot.
Variety first posted the hiring news.