Thursday, November 27, 2014

2010 center-pin Frank Yablans dead at 79

On Thursday, November 27, 2014, New York-born Frank Yablans, who was the president of Paramount Pictures during the era that produced movies including Chinatown and The Godfather, died of natural causes at his home in L.A., according to his son, ICM Partners agent Edvard Yablans. Yablans was 79.

Frank Yablans with Diana Ross.

Investor Kirk Kerkorian brought him on as vice chairman and chief operating officer and co-chairman of MGM from 1983 to 1985. During this time Yablans began to restructure the companies United Artists and MGM, creating MGM/UA as a single company, drastically reducing costs. Immediately after assuming his responsibilities at MGM/UA, Yablans launched a program to attract new talent all the while keeping costs manageable.

It was during this time he was instrumental in bringing 2010 to the silver screen. Having produced Peter Hyams' The Star Chamber, Hyams was Yablans' first choice as director once MGM/UA had procured the movie rights to Clarke's novel, after ceremoniously having offered the director's chair to Stanley Kubrick knowing full well the offer would be equally ceremoniously declined. Hyams, too, declined the offer, several times in fact, but Yablans was adamant: Hyams was to be the director. Ultimately Yablans got his way; Hyams relented and the movie became a reality.

However despite Yablans’ efforts to reduce costs by combining the historic studio with United Artists, the studio continued to face financial troubles. By March 10, 1985, the movie 2010 had earned $40.700.000 domestically, but Kirk Kerkorian was "impatient" and had the blunt-spoken and direct Yablans removed from the company.

Yablans proceeded to set up his own venture and produced films and television productions until the end of his life.

His son Edvard Yablans put it succinctly: "He never retired."

(Article in Variety magazine)

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