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MGM Remakes Orion Pictures to Tell More Inclusive Stories


John Hegeman, who has been Orion’s president since 2017, is leaving the company, along with his entire team.

Mr. De Luca and Pam Abdy, president of MGM’s film group, said in a statement that remaking Orion to focus on people of color, women, the L.G.B.T.Q. community and people with disabilities was “a moral and business imperative.” Kevin Ulrich, chairman of the MGM board, cited Ms. Mayo’s “fearlessness” as one reason she was hired.

“It was essential that we find an exceptional executive who will be a leader at the forefront of change in our industry,” Mr. Ulrich said in a statement. Mr. Ulrich is the chief executive of Anchorage Capital Group, a New York investment firm that is MGM’s largest owner. The plan to bring in Ms. Mayo was hatched with Creative Artists Agency, which serves as an adviser to Mr. Ulrich, not long after Mr. Floyd’s killing in late May.

MGM’s primary movie operation underwent its own shake-up in January. Out: Jonathan Glickman, who stepped down after nine years as the studio’s film chief. In: Mr. De Luca, a former Sony Pictures and New Line Cinema executive (and a producer of the infamous 2017 Oscars telecast that found Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty naming the wrong film best picture). MGM has since shown a new aggression in deal-making, lining up an adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof” to be directed by Thomas Kail (“Hamilton”) and a 1970s-era film from Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights”).

There is speculation in Hollywood that Mr. Ulrich is sprucing up MGM ahead of a potential sale to a company like Apple, which lacks a library for its streaming service. An MGM spokeswoman declined to comment.

Orion, founded in 1978 as an independent company, sizzled in the 1980s and early 90s, in part because it took risks on challenging stories. Oscar-winning hits included “Amadeus” (1984), “Platoon” (1986), “Dances With Wolves” (1990) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). Orion also gave the world “Caddyshack” (1980).

But the studio also had misfires, among them Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club” (1984) and “She-Devil” (1989), which paired Meryl Streep with Roseanne Barr. Orion eventually found itself unable to compete with larger studios and declared bankruptcy. MGM bought Orion in 1997, and it remained largely dormant as a film business — it also has a TV division, which will not be part of Ms. Mayo’s purview — until Mr. Hegeman was hired in 2017.

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