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Price Signs Deal With Tri-Star Pictures

November 12, 1987|AL DELUGACH | Times Staff Writer

Frank Price, a one-time television writer who later headed two major Hollywood film studios, will make movies once again for Coca-Cola Co., owner of Columbia Pictures, it was announced Wednesday. Price was Columbia's chief executive from 1979 to 1983.

This time around, the 57-year-old Price has signed to produce films under a three-year deal with Tri-Star Pictures, which is being merged with Columbia under a new umbrella firm, Columbia Pictures Entertainment.

Tri-Star described its arrangement with Price as a joint venture for development, production and distribution. It provides for Price and his new Price Entertainment Inc. to release six pictures a year through Tri-Star's distribution system, and Price is said to have a large measure of creative and business control.

Price, who spent three years at the helm of Universal Pictures before leaving 14 months ago, has been associated with the production of many major hits. They include multiple Academy Award winners "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Gandhi" for Columbia and "Out of Africa" for Universal. Other successes at Columbia have included "Tootsie," "Ghostbusters" and "All That Jazz."

Victor Kaufman, Tri-Star chairman and chief executive, said the joint venture may be transferred from Tri-Star to Columbia after the expected combination of Coca-Cola's entertainment sector with Tri-Star, which is about one-third owned by Coca-Cola. Kaufman has been designated to head Columbia Pictures Entertainment.

In a telephone interview, Price called his deal "unique" and said he had been "wanting for some years to start a company of my own" and nearly did so in 1983. Instead, he went back to Universal, where he had risen to television chief and a vice president of parent MCA before going to Columbia.

Price said he particularly relishes concentrating his efforts on six pictures a year after heavier responsibilities for studios. He said the freedom he will enjoy in the arrangement is "fairly rare."

The announcement said he may start motion pictures "within preset budget limitations" and control creative and business aspects of each film as well as the marketing and advertising campaigns "subject to certain parameters."

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