David V Picker has spent more than forty years in the film business, working his way up from the publicity department to the executive suites at United Artists during a 15-year tenure with the company. He has also held executive posts at both Paramount and Columbia. Between his corporate stints and after his days behind the desks of power waned, Picker served as producer or executive producer on varied projects, ranging from biopics to crowd-pleasing comedies to strong dramatic fare.
The son of a Loew's theater executive, Picker began at United Artists (UA) in 1956 working in advertising and publicity. By 1961, he was assistant to the president and by the end of the decade had been given control of UA's record division, before assuming the corporation presidency from 1969-73. During his time at UA, Picker was responsible for such films as Tony Richardson's Oscar-winning "Tom Jones" (1963), the James Bond series, the films of The Beatles, John Schlesinger's Oscar-winner "Midnight Cowboy' (1969) and Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial "Last Tango in Paris" (1973). Woody Allen joined the UA family under Picker's watch, although the screenwriter-director later decamped to Orion.
Picker left UA in 1973 and formed his own production company. Films made under his banner included "Juggernaut" (1974), an effective thriller about a bomb threat on an ocean liner, and Dustin Hoffman's tour-de-force as comedian Lenny Bruce in Bob Fosse's "Lenny" (also 1974). Picker also was executive producer of "Smile" (1975), Michael Ritchie's satirical look at the word of beauty pageants. He returned to the corridors of power at Paramount in 1976, working alongside Barry Diller and Michael Eisner. During his tenure such films as "Saturday Night Fever" (1977) "Grease" (1978) and Robert Redford's Oscar-winning "Ordinary People" (1980) were either put into production or reached the screen. Picker left the executive suites once again to return to producing, forming a partnership with comedian Steve Martin that resulted in "The Jerk" (1979) and "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" (1982). Picker segued back to the executive offices, this time as head of movies at Lorimar Productions before landing at Columbia in the 80s.
By the middle of the decade, Picker seemingly abandoned the portals of power forever in favor of producing. Working with Harry Belafonte, he produced the edgy "Beat Street" (1984) and entered the 90s as executive producer of "Stella" (1990), a remake of "Stella Dallas" starring Bette Midler and Trini Alvarado. Other recent efforts have included the haunting "The Saint of Fort Washington" (1993) and "The Crucible" (1996), scripted by Arthur Miller from his stage masterpiece about the Salem (MA) witch trials.
In 1997, Picker was tapped as president of Hallmark Entertainment Productions Worldwide with the mandate to expand the company into feature film production.
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Misc. Crew (Special)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
Was hired in advertising and publicity department of United Artists (UA)
Became assistant to president, UA
Became vice president at UA
Left UA to open own production company
Was executive producer of "Juggernaut" and "Lenny"
Became president of motion picture division, Paramount
Produced "Oliver's Story"
Was president of feature films fat Lorimar
Produced "The Jerk"
Joined Harry Belafonte to produce "Beat Street"
Was president and COO at Columbia Pictures
Produced Bette Midler vehicle, "Stella"
With Robert Miller, produced "The Crucible"
Named president of Worldwide Production at Hallmark Entertainment
Served as one of the executive producers of the Emmy-nominated miniseries "The Temptations"
Was an executive producer of the Emmy-nominated miniseries "P.T. Barnum" (A&E)