After weeks of speculation, it seems certain that indie veteran Bingham Ray is to head United Artists (UA), the specialised arm of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

Ray, who is expected to remain based in New York City, is currently running the film production arm of New York commercial and video production company Crossroads Films. Indeed, earlier this year he engineered a distribution deal for Crossroads with UA; Ray had been working on international financing components for Crossroads since he joined the company late last year.

UA was previously run by MGM worldwide distribution head Larry Gleason and worldwide marketing head Gerry Rich but both were essentially ousted from the studio when studio vice chairman and COO Chris McGurk appointed Bob Levin as president, worldwide marketing and distribution, above them in June this year.

It's unclear as to what will happen to Ray's projects at Crossroads; neither he nor MGM would comment on his appointment.

Ray has a close relationship with McGurk from his days as co-founder and co-president of October Films, a 51% stake in which McGurk was responsible for acquiring when he was at Universal Pictures. Ray left October in June 1999 before it morphed into USA Films.

He inherits a slate at UA including several films from Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope's deal with the unit including Jeepers Creepers, CQ and Pumpkin as well as Cannes prize-winner No Man's Land and all-star comedy Igby Goes Down.

He brings a wealth of relationships with film-makers including Mike Leigh and David Lynch.