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MGM movie chief Mary Parent negotiating to exit studio [updated]

October 15, 2010 | 10:55 am

MaryParent It may go down as one of the most ill-timed gigs in Hollywood.

As MGM prepares to file for a "prepackaged" bankruptcy and a management overhaul, movie chief Mary Parent is negotiating to leave the financially crippled studio that she has led for the last 2 1/2 years, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

[Update, 5:02 p.m.: By Friday afternoon, Parent officially reached a deal to leave MGM, a person familiar with the matter said.]

Parent has been cleaning out her office on the 14th floor of the MGM tower in Century City this week in expectation of settling out her contract, which has about 18 months remaining, those people said, cautioning that the executive does not yet have a signed settlement.

Parent, a former producer and top executive at Universal Pictures, was recruited by chairman Harry Sloan in the spring of 2008 with a hefty salary to help reinvigorate MGM with new development and production of movies after the struggling studio had devolved into a distributor of films made by outside suppliers such as The Weinstein Co.

In quick order, Parent put her own team of top marketing and distribution executives in place and tapped her production expertise and talent relationships to assemble a slate of more than a dozen high -profile movie projects.  But many of the big-budget projects she hoped to make -- including James Bond sequels, a "Three Stoges" movie, a remake of "Robocop" and a spy thriller based on Robert Ludlum's suspense novel "The Matarese Circle" -- were scrapped after the studio hit the financial wall.

Parent was only able to greenlight four films before MGM's production funds dried up and instability at the studio tied her hands.

MGM, which hasn't been able to make interest payments on its $4-billion debt load for the last year, only had the funds to market and release one of those four movies, the R-rated comedy "Hot Tub Time Machine." Released in March, the film, which cost $36 million to produce and tens of millions more to market, performed so-so with $50 million in domestic ticket sales.

Of Parent's other movies, "Zookeeper," a $75-million-budgeted comedy starring Kevin James, will be released next July by MGM's co-financing partner Sony Pictures; "Red Dawn," a remake of the 1980s Cold War action movie, and the 3-D comedy horror thriller "Cabin In the Woods" remain undated.

-- Claudia Eller 

Photo: Mary Parent. Credit: MGM.