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Mike Medavoy

Mike Medavoy
Michael Medavoy 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Medavoy at the 2012 premiere of What to Expect When You're Expecting
Morris Mike Medavoy

(1941-01-21) January 21, 1941 (age 78)
Shanghai, China
OccupationFilm producer, business executive
Years active1964–present
Children2, including Brian Medavoy

Morris Mike Medavoy (born January 21, 1941) is an American film producer and executive, co-founder of Orion Pictures (1978), former chairman of TriStar Pictures, former head of production for United Artists (1974–1978) and current chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures.

Early life and education

Morris Mike Medavoy was born in 1941, in Shanghai, China. His father, Michael, was a garage mechanic, and his mother, Dora, had a dress shop for Chinese actresses.[1][2][3] His parents were both from Jewish families. His mother was born in Harbin, Manchuria (to parents originally from Odessa), and his father was born in Ukraine.[1][4] Medavoy lived in Chile from 1947 to 1957, and he studied at the Liceo Valentín Letelier de Santiago,[5] where he learned to speak Spanish fluently in addition to his native Russian. He then moved to Los Angeles and lived with his aunt.[6] He became an American citizen in 1963,[7] and graduated from UCLA that same year.


Medavoy began his career at Universal Studios in 1964. In 1965 he became an agent at the General Artists Corporation, later moving to Creative Management Associates.[citation needed] He became Creative Management's vice president of the motion picture department in 1967, where he worked with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola among others, and headed to International Famous Agency in 1970.[8] In 1974, United Artists brought Medavoy in as senior vice president of production. There, he was part of the team responsible for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Rocky, and Annie Hall, which won Best Picture Oscars in 1975, 1976 and 1977, respectively. United Artists made a number of other notable films at the time, including Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Network and Coming Home.[8]

Orion Pictures

In 1978, Medavoy co-founded Orion Pictures, a joint venture with Warner Brothers, along with fellow United Artists executives Arthur Krim, Robert Benjamin, Eric Pleskow, and William Bernstein.[9] During his tenure there, Orion released such notable and successful films as Platoon, Amadeus, RoboCop, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Terminator, Dances with Wolves, and The Silence of the Lambs.[8]

TriStar Pictures

In 1990, Medavoy became the chairman of TriStar Pictures, where he oversaw the release of films such as Philadelphia, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sleepless in Seattle, Cliffhanger, The Fisher King, Legends of the Fall and Hook.[8]

Phoenix Pictures

Medavoy at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival

In 1995, Medavoy co-founded Phoenix Pictures. As its chairman and CEO, he co-produced such films as The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Mirror Has Two Faces, U Turn, Apt Pupil, The Thin Red Line, The 6th Day, Basic, All the King's Men, Zodiac, Pathfinder and Miss Potter, among others. The Thin Red Line and The People vs. Larry Flynt received Oscar nominations.[8] Phoenix Pictures has produced Shutter Island and Black Swan. Shutter Island was released on February 19, 2010, earning over $42 million its opening weekend. Black Swan was directed by Darren Aronofsky and won numerous awards including the Oscar® and Golden Globe for Best Actress (Natalie Portman).[8]

In 2011, Medavoy announced his newest project, surrounding the 2010 Chilean mining accident that left 33 men trapped underground for 69 days. He collaborated with Chilean officials and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter José Rivera to create an authentic retelling of this story that, as Medavoy explains, "at its heart, [is] about the triumph of the human spirit and a testament to the courage and perseverance of the Chilean people".[8] Also in 2011, Medavoy announced his collaboration with The Shanghai Film Group to create both a feature film and six-hour miniseries. The feature, an adaptation of the novel The Cursed Piano, is a love story set in Japanese-occupied China concerning persecuted Jews seeking refuge from occupied Europe. The mini-series, Tears of a Sparrow, was to focus in greater detail on the experience of these Jews in Shanghai. Medavoy also worked on Dandelion Wine, adapted from the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury.[8] In 2015, it was announced that he and Eric Esrailian were producing The Promise, starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.[10]

Community contributions and other memberships

Medavoy was appointed to the board of directors of the Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles by Governor Jerry Brown and was appointed by Mayor Richard Riordan as Commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Parks and Recreations.[8] He is a member of the board of directors of the University of Tel Aviv. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the UCLA Foundation and is a member of the Chancellor's Associates, the Dean's Advisory Board at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the Alumni Association's Student Relations Committee.[8] Medavoy is the co-chairman of the Burkle Center for UCLA's Center for International Relations and served as a member of the board of advisors at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for five years. In 2002, Governor Gray Davis appointed him to the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center's Executive Advisory Board; he is also a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Mike is also on the Baryshnikov Arts Center Advisory Committee in New York, and serves on the advisory board of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.[8] The Medavoy's charity work includes C.O.A.C.H. For Kids (Community Outreach Assistance for Children's Heath, with Cedar Sinai Medical Center) for which Irena serves as Executive Vice Chairman) and which provides free medical care to inner city children.

He was a close friend of Marlon Brando's, and is co-executor of the late actor's estate.[11]

Involvement in politics

In 1984, Medavoy was Co-Finance Chair of the Gary Hart campaign. He also actively participated in President Clinton's campaigns in 1992 and 1996. In 2008, he supported Barack Obama's candidacy and his wife, Irena, served as the Co-Finance Chair of the campaign.[8]

Personal life

He was married to Marcia Rogers, daughter of publicist Henry Rogers and his wife Roz Jaffe Rogers[12] and former wife of Mark Goddard. In 1986, he married political activist Patricia Duff.[12] In 1993, they separated and divorced (she remarried Ron Perelman in 1994).[12]

He is presently married to Irena Gerasimenko, a philanthropist, activist, former model and actress and co-founder of Team Safe-T (which prepares schools in emergency situations) and a charity executive and fundraiser for the Industry Task Force. The couple has one son, Nick. (Mike has a producer son Brian Medavoy from a previous marriage).[8] Irena Medavoy writes for The Huffington Post[13] about distorted and unrealistic female media images. When their son, Nick (who now stands 6' 8"), was born Mike sang him 'Singing In the Rain'.[14]


In 2011, UNICEF and Oscar winner Sean Penn presented the Medavoy family a humanitarian award,[15]

  1. 1992 - Motion Picture Pioneer of the Year Award
  2. 1997 - UCLA Career Achievement Award
  3. 1998 - The Cannes Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
  4. 1999 - UCLA Neil H. Jacoby Award for Exceptional Contributions to Humanity
  5. 2002 - Israeli Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award
  6. 2004 - Florida Atlantic University's Louis B. Mayer Motion Picture Business Leader of the Year Award
  7. 2004 - UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television Honorary Member Award
  8. 2005 - Producers Guild of America Vision Award
  9. 2005 - Inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a star on Hollywood Blvd.
  10. 2007 - Stella Adler Actors Studio Marlon Brando Award
  11. 2008 - Jerusalem Film Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
  12. 2008 - International Student Film Festival Hollywood Lifetime Achievement Award
  13. 2009 - Declared the honorary Doctorate at the Academy of Art in San Francisco
  14. 2009 - Declared Chevalier of the French Government's Legion of Honor.
  15. 2009 - Independent Spirit Award
  16. 2010 - Bernardo O'Higgins award from the Chilean government
  17. 2011 - The Locarno Film Festival Raimondo Rezzonico Prize (Locarno, Switzerland)
  18. 2011 - Hebrew University Award
  19. 2011 - Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award
  20. 2012 - Shanghai International Film Festival – Outstanding Achievement Award
  21. 2014 - Satellite Awards Mary Pickford Award - Outstanding Artistic Contribution to the Entertainment Industry
  22. 2015 - Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award
  23. 2016 - Peabody Award - Listen to Me Marlon[16]
  24. 2019 - RiverRun International Film Festival - Master of Cinema Award[17]
  25. 2019 - Beverly Hills Film Festival - Legends Award

Membership in film organizations

Membership in film organizations.[8]

  1. Chairman of The Jury of the Tokyo Film Festival
  2. Advisor to The Shanghai Film Festival
  3. Advisor to The St. Petersburg Film Festival
  4. Member of the Board of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences from 1977 to 1981
  5. One of the original founding members of the board of governors of the Sundance Institute (1978)
  6. Chairman Emeritus of the American Cinematheque
  7. Chairman Emeritus of the Stella Adler Actors Studio in New york


In 2002, Simon & Schuster published Medavoy's book, You're Only As Good As Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films and 100 For Which I Should Be Shot, co-written by Josh Young, which became a best-seller and was subsequently released in paperback in 2003. In 2009, Mike published American Idol After Iraq; Competing for Hearts and Minds in the Global Media Age, with co-author Nathan Gardels,[18] editor of the National Political Quarterly.[8]

Filmography as a Producer


  1. ^ a b Medavoy, Mike. "Mike Medavoy: Revisiting My Roots as a Jewish Child in Shanghai". Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  2. ^ Sino-Judaic Institute (1993). Points East. Sino-Judaic Institute. ISSN 1063-6269. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  3. ^ Farley, Maggie (December 13, 1995). "A Hollywood Ending: Journeys: A film festival brought studio honcho Mike Medavoy and his parents back to Shanghai—and to memories of its golden era". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Bloom, Nate (February 15, 2011). "The 2011 Oscars". Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  5. ^ Medavoy, Mike. "Mike Medavoy: Revisiting My Roots as a Jewish Child in Shanghai". Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  6. ^ Griffin, Nancy; Masters, Kim (Jun 17, 1997). Hit and Run. Simon and Schuster. p. 266. ISBN 9780684832661.
  7. ^ Medavoy, Mike and Young, Josh (2002). You're Only as Good as Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I Should Be Shot (p. 215). New York City: Atria Books
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Biography at Phoenix Pictures; accessed August 7, 2014.
  9. ^ Griffin and Masters, p. 57
  10. ^ "The Promise". Variety. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  11. ^ [1] Medavoy executor Brando estate.
  12. ^ a b c Shah, Diane K. (December 1996). "Beauty and the Billionaire". Los Angeles Magazine. p. 62-78. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  13. ^ "Weigh to Revolution". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  14. ^ "irena medavoy photos by tracey morris". GENLUX. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  15. ^ "Press Releases | UNICEF USA". UNICEF USA. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  16. ^ "The Peabody 30 - Complete Winner's List". Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  17. ^ "2019 film awards announced!". RiverRun International Film Festival. 2019-04-16. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  18. ^ Gardels, Nathan; Medavoy, Mike (2009). American Idol After Iraq: Competing for Hearts and Minds in the Global Media Age. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 1-4051-8741-7.

External links