NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) David Picker, 87, an executive producer, CEO and president for various film companies for more than four decades, died at his New York home after complications with colon cancer April 20.
Picker served as president and CEO for United Artists, Paramount, Lorimar and Columbia Pictures and some of his assistants went on to be Hollywood power brokers like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Jonathan Demme. During his earlier years, Picker produced films like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “The Jerk,” and launched the James Bond series.
He began his career working in advertising and publicity at United Artists in 1956 and eventually became assistant to the president and manager of United Artists Records. He is credited with bringing the film “Tom Jones” to UA in 1963. It went on to win four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.
When he became president of UA, he signed a deal that brought the James Bond franchise to the studio. During his time at UA, Picker spearheaded projects like “Midnight Cowboy” and “Last Tango In Paris” along with Beatles films “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!” and “Yellow Submarine.”
Picker is also credited with buying the film rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. He pitched the idea to uber-agent Lew Wasserman, who repped Fleming, but was told, “It’s a great idea kid, but Fleming just won’t sell.” He eventually learned the rights were owned by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
Picker may have been credited with kicking off a major movie franchise, but he admitted that when he saw the screen test for Sean Connery for “Dr. No,” he told the producers to “keep trying.”
He eventually found his way to Paramount as president of motion pictures, where he launched movies like “Saturday Night Fever,” “Grease” and the award-winning “Ordinary People.” He had a longtime relationship with Steve Martin, with Paramount producing movies like “The Jerk,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and “The Man With Two Brains.”
At Lorimar, he was responsible for movies like “Being There,” “School Daze” and “Punch Line.”
Picker served as chairman of The Producers Guild of America for the East from 2004 to 2008. His memoir, “Musts, Maybes and Nevers,” was released in 2013.