Mike Medavoy

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Mike Medavoy
Medavoy in May 2012
Morris Mike Medavoy

(1941-01-21) January 21, 1941 (age 83)
Shanghai, China
  • Film producer
  • business executive
Years active1964–present
  • Marcia Rogers (div.)
(m. 1986; div. 1994)
(m. 1995)
Children2, including Brian Medavoy

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

Early life[edit]

Morris Mike Medavoy was born in Shanghai on January 21, 1941, the son of dress shop owner Dora and garage mechanic Michael Medavoy. His mother's shop mostly catered to Chinese actresses.[1][2][3] His parents were both Russian-speaking Ukrainian Jews, with his mother being born in Harbin to immigrants from Odesa and his father being born and raised in Ukraine.[1][4] He has a younger sister named Ronnie.[5] The family moved to Chile in 1947 and stayed until 1957, with Medavoy studying at the Liceo Valentín Letelier de Santiago.[5] The family later moved to Los Angeles and lived with Medavoy's aunt.[6] He became an American citizen in 1963,[7] and graduated from UCLA the same year. Joining the U.S. Army Reserve in 1963, he served at Fort Ord in California until 1969.


Early work[edit]

Medavoy began his career in the mail room at Universal Studios in 1964.[8] 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, working with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, among others. He headed to International Famous Agency in 1970.[9]

In 1974, United Artists brought Medavoy in as senior vice president of production. There he was part of the team responsible for making 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 more notable films at the time including Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Network, The Black Stallion, and Coming Home.[9]

Orion Pictures[edit]

In 1978, Medavoy co-founded Orion Pictures which was a joint venture with Warner Brothers, and fellow United Artists executives Arthur Krim; Robert Benjamin; Eric Pleskow; and William Bernstein.[10] While Medavory was at Orion, the company released notable and successful films including Platoon, Amadeus, RoboCop, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Terminator, Dances with Wolves, and The Silence of the Lambs.[9]

TriStar Pictures[edit]

In 1990, Medavoy became the chairman of TriStar Pictures and 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.[9] He left in 1994 after having disputes with Sony Pictures chairman Peter Guber.[11][12]

Phoenix Pictures[edit]

Medavoy at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival

In 1995, Medavoy co-founded Phoenix Pictures with Arnold W. Messer which they set up at Sony Pictures Entertainment in November.[12] 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.[9] 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).[9]

In 2011, Medavoy announced a project depicting 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; they created an authentic retelling of the story. Medavoy explains, "at its heart, [it is] about the triumph of the human spirit and a testament to the courage and perseverance of the Chilean people".[9]

Also in 2011, Medavoy announced his collaboration with The Shanghai Film Group to create both a feature film and six-hour miniseries. The feature was an adaptation of the novel The Cursed Piano, a love story set in Japanese-occupied China about persecuted Jews seeking refuge from occupied Europe. The mini-series, Tears of a Sparrow focuses in detail on the experiences of the Jews in Shanghai. Medavoy also worked on Dandelion Wine which was adapted from a novel with the same name written by Ray Bradbury.[9]

In 2015, it was announced that he and Eric Esrailian would produce The Promise which stars Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.[13]

Community contributions and other memberships[edit]

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 a commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Parks and Recreations.[9] 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.[9] 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 a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Medavoy 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.[9] The Medavoys' charity work includes C.O.A.C.H. For Kids (Community Outreach Assistance for Children's Heath, with Cedar Sinai Medical Center) and Irena Medavoy is the Executive Vice Chairman. The agency provides free medical care to inner city children.


Medavoy has a history of supporting Democratic Party politicians. He was the co-finance chair of Gary Hart's 1988 presidential campaign, participated in Bill Clinton's presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996, and supported Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign; his wife, Irena, served as the co-finance chair of the latter.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Medavoy was previously married to Marcia Rogers, the daughter of publicist Henry C. Rogers and the ex-wife of actor Mark Goddard; their wedding and divorce dates are unknown.[14] Their son, Brian (born 1965), is also a film producer.[9]

Medavoy married political activist Patricia Duff in 1986, and they divorced in 1993; within two years, she had married and divorced banker Ronald Perelman.[14]

Medavoy married Russian-American philanthropist and former model Irena Gerasimenko in 1995. They have a son named Nick.[15][16]

Medavoy was a close friend of actor Marlon Brando and is a co-executor of Brando's estate.[17] In addition to his native Russian, he became fluent in Spanish while living in Chile and later became fluent in English after moving to the U.S.[5]


In 2011, UNICEF and Oscar winner Sean Penn presented the Medavoy family a humanitarian award,[18]

  1. 1980 - Honored by the Society of Fellows of the Anti-Defamation League
  2. 1992 - Motion Picture Pioneer of the Year Award
  3. 1997 - UCLA Career Achievement Award
  4. 1998 - The Cannes Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
  5. 1999 - UCLA Neil H. Jacoby Award for Exceptional Contributions to Humanity
  6. 2002 - Israeli Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award
  7. 2004 - Florida Atlantic University's Louis B. Mayer Motion Picture Business Leader of the Year Award
  8. 2004 - UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television Honorary Member Award
  9. 2005 - Producers Guild of America Vision Award
  10. 2005 - Inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a star on Hollywood Blvd.
  11. 2007 - Stella Adler Actors Studio Marlon Brando Award
  12. 2008 - Jerusalem Film Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
  13. 2008 - International Student Film Festival Hollywood Lifetime Achievement Award
  14. 2009 - Declared the honorary Doctorate at the Academy of Art in San Francisco
  15. 2009 - Declared Chevalier of the French Government's Legion of Honor.
  16. 2009 - Independent Spirit Award
  17. 2010 - Bernardo O'Higgins award from the Chilean government
  18. 2011 - The Locarno Film Festival Raimondo Rezzonico Prize (Locarno, Switzerland)
  19. 2011 - Hebrew University Award
  20. 2011 - Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award
  21. 2012 - Shanghai International Film Festival – Outstanding Achievement Award
  22. 2014 - Satellite Awards Mary Pickford Award - Outstanding Artistic Contribution to the Entertainment Industry
  23. 2015 - Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award
  24. 2016 - Peabody Award - Listen to Me Marlon[19]
  25. 2019 - RiverRun International Film Festival - Master of Cinema Award[20]
  26. 2019 - Beverly Hills Film Festival - Legends Award

Membership in film organizations[edit]

Membership in film organizations.[9]

  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,[21] editor of the National Political Quarterly.[9]


Medavoy was a producer on the following films unless otherwise noted.


Year Film Credit
1997 U Turn CEO of Phoenix Pictures
1998 Urban Legend
The Thin Red Line
2000 The 6th Day
2003 Basic
2004 In My Country
2005 Stealth
2006 All the King's Men
Miss Potter
2007 Pathfinder
Resurrecting the Champ
License to Wed
2010 Shutter Island
Black Swan
2012 What to Expect When You're Expecting
2015 The 33
Absolutely Anything Executive producer
2016 The Promise
2023 The Last Voyage of the Demeter
As an actor
Year Film Role
1971 The Christian Licorice Store Hollywood Party Guest
Year Film Role
2007 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Special thanks
2011 Homecoming Thanks


Year Title Credit Notes
1996 Soul of the Game Executive producer Television film
1999 Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story Executive producer
2001 In the Time of the Butterflies Executive producer Television film
2002 The Outsider Executive producer Television film
2001−04 The Chris Isaak Show Executive producer
2011 The Dreamsters: Welcome to the Dreamery Executive producer Television film
The Dreamsters Executive producer
2012 Shushybye Baby Executive producer
2017 The Long Road Home Executive producer
2018 Altered Carbon Executive producer
Year Title Role
1998 Stories from My Childhood Special thanks


  1. ^ a b Medavoy, Mike (28 July 2010). "Mike Medavoy: Revisiting My Roots as a Jewish Child in Shanghai". Thewrap.com. 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". InterfaithFamily.com. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Medavoy, Mike (28 July 2010). "Mike Medavoy: Revisiting My Roots as a Jewish Child in Shanghai". Thewrap.com. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  6. ^ Griffin, Nancy; Masters, Kim (Jun 17, 1997). Hit and Run. Simon and Schuster. pp. 266. ISBN 9780684832661. medavoy.
  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. ^ Medavoy, Mike (2013). You're Only As Good As Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I Should Be Shot. Atria. pp. xxix.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Phoenix Pictures Inc. (10 Sep 2009). "Mike Medavoy | Chairman & Chief Executive Officer". Phoenix Pictures. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  10. ^ Griffin and Masters, p. 57
  11. ^ Eller, Claudia (December 18, 1994). "The Studio Shuffle: Mike Medavoy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Cox, Dan (November 28, 1995). "Medavoy's Phoenix Rises". Daily Variety. p. 1.
  13. ^ "The Promise". Variety. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  14. ^ a b Shah, Diane K. (December 1996). "Beauty and the Billionaire". Los Angeles Magazine. pp. 62–78. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  15. ^ "Weigh to Revolution". The Huffington Post. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  16. ^ "irena medavoy photos by tracey morris". GENLUX. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  17. ^ [1] Medavoy executor Brando estate.
  18. ^ "Press Releases | UNICEF USA". UNICEF USA. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  19. ^ "The Peabody 30 - Complete Winner's List". www.peabodyawards.com. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  20. ^ "2019 film awards announced!". RiverRun International Film Festival. 2019-04-16. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  21. ^ Gardels, Nathan; Medavoy, Mike (2009). American Idol After Iraq: Competing for Hearts and Minds in the Global Media Age. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-1-4051-8741-1.

External links[edit]