Known among directors for his willingness to gamble and trusted by financiers for his impeccable taste, Graham King is one of modern cinema's most successful producers. As the President and CEO of Initial Entertainment Group (IEG), an independent finance, production, and distribution company, King has been the force behind several of cinema's riskiest and biggest pictures, often keeping them from never being made. He saved Steven Soderbergh's Academy Award-winning Traffic after Harrison Ford dropped out of the drug czar role (which King eventually filled with Michael Douglas). He salvaged Michael Mann's Ali by buying the film's foreign rights and he rescued Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York by underwriting the film for 65 million dollars. Raised in London, King came to the United States in 1981 on a student visa to study at the University of California in Los Angeles. He landed a summer job in the international television distribution wing of Twentieth Century Fox, where he began his career. Working under the guidance of industry veteran and fellow Brit William Saunders, King developed his skills as a salesman by promoting foreign sales of B-pictures during a time when the American film and television industry was opening up to the foreign market. In 1987, he left Fox for the international sales company Cori Films, where he worked for five years. King then transferred to the Beverly Hills Producers Group, where he met future business partner Cindy Cowan, whose wealthy father had owned Miami's Diplomat Hotel. The two formed Initial Entertainment Group in 1995, and began producing such films as Robert Altman's Dr. T & the Women. Shortly afterward, King purchased Cowan's share of the company and began taking chances on pricier films like Traffic, Ali, and Gangs of New York. He signed an exclusive in-house production deal with Catherine Zeta-Jones' Milkwood Films and co-produced The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys with Jodie Foster's Egg Pictures. In the summer of 2001, King inked a three-year first-look production agreement with Gangs of New York star Leonardo Di Caprio's company, Appian Way. According to the arrangement, Di Caprio will develop, produce, and star in their joint projects.
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