Medavoy at the 2012 premiere of What to Expect When You're Expecting
Morris Mike Medavoy
January 21, 1941
|Occupation||Film producer, business executive|
|Children||2, 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.
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. 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. Medavoy lived in Chile from 1947 to 1957, and he studied at the Liceo Valentín Letelier de Santiago, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently in addition to his native Russian. He then moved to Los Angeles and lived with his aunt. He became an American citizen in 1963, 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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).
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". 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. In 2015, it was announced that he and Eric Esrailian were producing The Promise, starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
He was married to Marcia Rogers, daughter of publicist Henry Rogers and his wife Roz Jaffe Rogers and former wife of Mark Goddard. In 1986, he married political activist Patricia Duff. In 1993, they separated and divorced (she remarried Ron Perelman in 1994).
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). Irena Medavoy writes for The Huffington Post 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'.
In 2011, UNICEF and Oscar winner Sean Penn presented the Medavoy family a humanitarian award,
Membership in film organizations.
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, editor of the National Political Quarterly.