We aren't sure if Nikki Finke has confused the continuing exec exodus from United Artists with just another routine bomb and/or anthrax threat, but either way, the 11th floor at MGM Tower is clearing out again: Jeff Kleeman is reportedly evacuating his office as Executive Vice President of Production after less than a year on the job at UA. His departure follows marketing boss Dennis Rice's own flight earlier this summer and an abbreviated period during which Kleeman oversaw the development and/or production of exactly no finished films. Factor in the continuing limbo of Valkyrie, its deep (if closed) pockets and a tense relationship with its partners at MGM, and we can't help but ask once again: Does Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner or any of the skeleton crew left over there actually have a plan for this studio?Look at it this way: If you had $500 million of Wall Street's money waiting to be spent on a few Tom Cruise projects, or maybe on some of these comic-book adaptations we hear are doing OK these days, or even on an annual $30 million rom-com that will land snugly and profitably among the summer doldrums, how fast could you greenlight four to six projects a year? Finke's sources say Wagner herself is the "problem" — as in she, not Cruise, stands to lose the most from a third, fourth or fifth UA project facing the kind of backlash drawn by Lions For Lambs and Valkyrie (the first of which, it bears noting in fairness, actually made money). We sympathize, to a point, but at some point you've just got to pull the trigger — figuratively, of course. After last week's drama, if we heard a gunman was loose in the building, we'd probably give up, too. [Photo Credit: Variety]
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