Robert Lawrence was appointed Tuesday as executive vice president in charge of worldwide production for Kirk Kerkorian's new United Artists Corp. Lawrence, 33, recently held the same title at Columbia Pictures.
The announcement noted that, while at Columbia, Lawrence was involved with the development of "The Karate Kid," a 1984 hit film produced by Jerry Weintraub, who recently became UA's chairman and chief executive.
UA is to be acquired by financier Kerkorian at the time Turner Broadcasting System completes its purchase of MGM/UA Entertainment. Kerkorian is MGM/UA's controlling stockholder. The deal is expected to close in January.
In response to questions on Tuesday, Lawrence disputed published reports that he had a short sojourn last month as production chief of Embassy Pictures under new owner Dino DiLaurentiis.
"I never actually started there," he said. "The deal had not been closed." But he said there had been "serious negotiations" with Embassy for a position.
On Nov. 11, Weintraub was named to head UA, and eight days later he named Anthony D. Thomopoulos as president of its motion picture and television groups. On the same day, Daily Variety said, Lawrence had quit Embassy (since renamed DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group Inc.). On Oct. 31, the trade publication had reported that Lawrence had gone from Columbia to Embassy.
On Tuesday, Lawrence was announced as Thomopoulos' first major UA appointment.
Lawrence will oversee production on all UA films and work closely with Weintraub's senior management team of Thomopoulos, Kenneth Kleinberg and Sidney Sapsowitz, the announcement said.
The release said that Lawrence began his career as a messenger in the story department at Paramount Pictures and soon became a story analyst. He later was a writer for Robert Evans' production unit there.
Lawrence left Paramount to become an assistant to the head of production for American International Pictures, where he later became a production executive and director of acquisitions, the announcement said. He later joined Edgar J. Sherick & Associates as director of development for motion pictures and television.
The announcement said he joined Columbia Pictures in 1980 as production vice president, became senior production vice president in 1983 and later was promoted to executive vice president in charge of worldwide production.