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Mike Medavoy

Mike Medavoy
Medavoy at the 2012 premiere of What to Expect When You're Expecting
Born Morris Mike Medavoy
(1941-01-21) January 21, 1941
Shanghai, China
Occupation Film producer, business executive
Spouse(s) Irena Ferris

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 1
  • Career 2
    • Orion Pictures 2.1
    • TriStar Pictures 2.2
    • Phoenix Pictures 2.3
  • Community contributions and other memberships 3
  • Involvement in politics 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Awards 6
  • Membership in film organizations 7
  • Books 8
  • Filmography as a Producer 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

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. He became an American citizen in 1963.[6] 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 and later moving into the vice president position of the Creative Management Agency. 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 IFA in 1970.[7] 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 Pictures 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.[7]

Orion Pictures

In 1978, Medavoy co-founded Orion Pictures. During his tenure there, Orion released films such notable and successful films as Platoon, Amadeus, Robocop, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Terminator, Dances with Wolves, and The Silence of the Lambs.[7]

TriStar Pictures

In 1990, Medavoy became the chairman of TriStar Pictures where he oversaw release of films such as Philadelphia, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sleepless in Seattle, Cliffhanger, The Fisher King, Legends of the Fall and Hook.[7]

Phoenix Pictures

Medavoy at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival

In 1995, Medavoy co-founded Phoenix Pictures. As its chairman and CEO, Medavoy co-produced such films as The People vs. Larry Flint, 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 Flint received Oscar nominations.[7] 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).[7]

In 2011, Medavoy announced his newest project surrounding the 2010 Chilean mining accident that left 33 men trapped underground for 69 days. Medavoy will collaborate 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".[7] 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 prosecuted Jews seeking refuge from an occupied Europe. The mini-series, Tears of a Sparrow, will focus in greater detail on the experience of these Jews in Shanghai. He is also working on an adaptation of Dandelion Wine, adapted from the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury.[7]

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.[7] 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.[7] 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.[7]

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.[7]

Personal life

He is married to Irena Ferris, a co-founder of Team Safe-T and a charity executive and fundraiser for the Industry Task Force. The couple has two sons.[7]


  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

Membership in film organizations

Membership in film organizations.[7]

  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, which became a best-selling 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.[7]

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 (v. 8-17). Sino-Judaic Institute.  
  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. ^ 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
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Biography at Phoenix Pictures; accessed August 7, 2014.

External links

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