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Parkes and MacDonald Renew DreamWorks Deal

By Digital Journal Staff     May 23, 2000 in Lifestyle
LOS ANGELES - Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald have reupped as co-heads of
DreamWorks Pictures, the motion picture arm of DreamWorks SKG, it was
announced today by DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg.
Maintaining their corporate duties, the duo will continue to oversee
feature films released by DreamWorks Pictures. Together with Steven
Spielberg, Parkes and MacDonald are also responsible for greenlighting the
studio's live-action film productions. As they have throughout their tenure
at DreamWorks, and previously at Amblin, the two will also be heavily
in developing projects earmarked for Spielberg to direct.
In addition, the newly structured six-year deal allows for Parkes and
MacDonald to produce an unspecified number of films each year for the
In the past, they have functioned as executive producer or producer on
DreamWorks films, including the studio's first feature "The Peacemaker,"
Steven Spielberg's "Amistad," and the current release "Gladiator," which has
grossed over $100 million domestically in only 17 days of release.
"This is an unconventional deal, but DreamWorks is an unconventional
studio," Walter Parkes stated. "From its inception, one of our company's
strengths has been that it has been filmmaker driven. Now, five years
we have reached a point that our ongoing relationships with a number of
filmmakers will hopefully guarantee a steady flow of diverse product. This
gives Laurie and me the liberty of putting a little more focus on our first
love -- the creation and production of our own films, as well as working
closely with Steven."
MacDonald added, "Walter and I have been closely involved as producers on
a number of movies over the last five years. Our new arrangement makes that
role official while we continue to build our company by supporting the work
other filmmakers."
In making the announcement, Spielberg said, "Walter and Laurie have been
invaluable in building the first film studio in 65 years. Their respect for
and collaboration with writers, directors, and co-executives and their
to find humor in every aspect of running a studio may make them the most
unique studio chiefs in history. I am grateful they have re-upped, not only
as the driving force of the motion picture division, but as my creative
partners as well."
Jeffrey Katzenberg noted, "Walter and Laurie have led our motion picture
division from the start and have been integral to the success of our films,
and I also know that they possess a wealth of talent as filmmakers in their
own right. I could not imagine working for two more creative people --
they are, after all, my bosses -- and I hope to continue to learn from them
for the next six years ... and many years to come."
During Walter Parkes' and Laurie MacDonald's tenure as co-heads of
DreamWorks Pictures, they have overseen such projects as "American Beauty,"
which won five Oscars and three Golden Globe Awards, both including Best
Picture; and the Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning drama "Saving
Private Ryan," a co-production with Paramount, which was the top-grossing
of 1998. They most recently served as executive producers of DreamWorks'
action drama "Gladiator," starring Oscar nominee Russell Crowe.
Their other producing or executive producing credits include the
blockbuster "Men in Black," which is the top-grossing film in the history of
Columbia Pictures; the action adventure hit "The Mask of Zorro," which
catapulted Catherine Zeta Jones to stardom; DreamWorks' first film release
"The Peacemaker"; and Steven Spielberg's "Amistad," as well as "How to Make
American Quilt," "Trigger Effect" and "Twister." In 1997, they were named
Showest Producers of the Year.
In addition, Parkes is a three-time Academy Award(R) nominee. He earned
his first nomination for his work as the director/producer of the 1978
documentary "California Reich," which exposed neo-Nazi activities in
California. He garnered his second Oscar(R) nomination for writing (with
Lawrence Lasker) the original screenplay for "WarGames," and his third nod
his work as a producer on the Best Picture nominee "Awakenings."
MacDonald began her producing career as a documentary and news producer at
KRON, the NBC affiliate in San Francisco. She later joined Columbia
where she served as a Vice President of Production. After four years, she
started a production company with her husband, Walter Parkes. Immediately
prior to joining DreamWorks, MacDonald was with Amblin Entertainment, where
she oversaw development and production.
DreamWorks SKG was formed in October, 1994, by its three principal
partners -- Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen -- to
produce live-action motion pictures; animated feature films; network,
syndicated and cable television programming; home video entertainment;
records; books; toys; consumer products and interactive entertainment.
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