A former executive at Ron Howard & Brian Grazer's Universal-based Imagine Entertainment has landed the first new production deal at Disney:

Jim Whitaker, a producer and former president of production at Imagine, has signed a first-look deal with Disney.

It's the first new producer pact since Disney began a housecleaning on the lot under Rich Ross and new head of production Sean Bailey.
Insiders said Ross and Bailey hope to bring fresher voices to its films by inviting a younger generation of producers to its lot.

Whitaker worked at Imagine for about 16 years, starting as a summer intern in 1993 and working his way up to production president, receiving executive producer credits on such films as "Friday Night Lights," "American Gangster," and the upcoming "Robin Hood."

Whitaker left the Universal-based banner last year to direct "Project Rebirth," a documentary that chronicles the rebuilding of Ground Zero and will be part of the permanent collection of the site's museum.

He worked with Disney on "Flightplan," the 2005 Jodie Foster thriller on which he acted as exec producer.
Ex-Imagine exec lands Disney prod'n deal