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Adam Fogelson Embraces New Role: ‘I Didn’t Want to Go Back to Another Studio’

The former Universal chief talks to TheWrap about his position at Robert Simonds’ next-generation film and television studio

Adam Fogelson has had a year to self-reflect and plot his next move, and from the sound of it he’s not looking back but just moving forward.

On Wednesday, the Former Universal Pictures chief was named chairman of the motion picture group for the new, next-generation film and television studio led by Robert Simonds. In a conversation with TheWrap following the announcement, Fogelson was excited and keenly aware of the new challenges that awaited him going from a major studio to building a company from the ground up.

“I didn’t want to go back to another studio situation. Not that they aren’t great places to work. But I wanted the next place to be more entrepreneurial. I wanted a little more control over my day,” said Fogelson. “I’ve been grateful to have this last year to reflect. In this business you rarely get the chance to reflect that much.”

Also read: Adam Fogelson Joins Robert Simonds’ New Studio as Motion Picture Chairman

Fogelson, who most recently led Universal Pictures to three of the most successful years in the studio’s history, will oversee all aspects of the motion picture group for Simonds’ new studio, including its production, marketing, distribution and home entertainment strategy.

“If you get the opportunity to build a motion picture studio, there’s a lot of pieces to put together,” said Fogelson. “This is effectively pre-day-one of an incredible opportunity.”

Simond’s studio is currently ramping up to finance and self-release up to 10 major motion pictures a year, primarily in the $20-$60 million budget range. How quickly will they get up to speed?

“As quickly as there are 10 films worth making,” said Fogelson. “It will be much faster than people would typically assume … I think we’ll have our first film in theaters in the first quarter of 2016, if not before.”

Also read: Donna Langley Extends Universal Contract, Adds Marketing Departments Once Overseen by Adam Fogelson

“Adam is not going to rush any decisions,” Simonds told TheWrap. “But we’re trying to fill a vacuum left by the studios for these kinds of films that the independent world can’t do to scale.”

Simonds is looking to scale up his operation by hiring the best executives available and focus on talent-driven content.

“We’re trying to build the most efficient company possible that can do what a studio can do,” said Simonds.

After formally launching just four months ago, the studio has already scored its first major television production commitment with NBC’s recent primetime pick-up of the drama series “State of Affairs,” starring Katherine Heigl.  The show will debut this November.

Also read: Katherine Heigl Drama ‘State of Affairs’ Loses Showrunner

Fogelson is looking forward to working with his brother, Noah Fogelson, who is strategy chief and general counsel.

“It’s a dream to work in the same company as my brother,” said Fogelson.

Of course, Fogelson will also be surrounded with a few other notable names. Earlier this month, the studio recruited former Disney production and marketing chief Oren Aviv as its president and chief content officer of the Motion Picture Group. The company also includes a Board of Directors with many prominent players in the world of global finance and entertainment such as Frank Biondi, former President and CEO of Viacom and former chairman and CEO of Universal Studios; Tony Vinciquerra, former Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group; film and stage producer, businesswoman and filmmaker Gigi Pritzker (“Drive”); David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG; Bill McGlashan, managing partner and founder of TPG Growth; and John Zhao, CEO of Hony Capital, one of China’s largest and most respected private equity firms.

Also read: Katherine Heigl’s ‘State of Affairs’ Co-Star Has a Message for Her Haters: ‘F–k Those Assholes’

“It’s a stunning group of people,” said Fogelson, who also noted that the company is still searching for top exec talent.

“We will be making some more significant hires,” said Fogelson. “People who are capable and accomplished in the studio environment, but looking for something entrepreneurial.”

And, of course, there’s the little detail as to when will they get around to naming the company.

“Prior to the first trailer for the first film,” laughed Fogelson. “We’ll definitely have it by then.”