Fine Line Features and Columbia TriStar Home Video have joined forces to acquire the North American theatrical, homevideo and television rights to “Naked in New York,” which will mark the feature film directorial debut of Dan Algrant.

Written by Algrant and John Warren from a story by Algrant, the romantic comedy is set to go before the cameras in New York City in early November.

The film, about a young playwright from his college days to adulthood, will be executive produced by Martin Scorsese and produced by Frederick Zollo.

Like a number of other Fine Line projects, including “The Player” and “My Own Private Idaho,””Naked in New York” has attracted a strong ensemble cast. Set to star in the film are Eric Stoltz, Mary-Louise Parker, Timothy Dalton, Whoopi Goldberg, Ralph Macchio and Kathleen Turner.

Fine Line and Columbia TriStar Home Video are kicking in 50% of the film’s estimated under-$ 5 million budget, with Pandora Cinema, which has foreign distribution rights to “Naked in New York,” ponying up the remaining 50%.

Algrant, who came to the attention of Scorsese while a film student at Columbia University, has made a number of shorts and won numerous awards, including the 1989 FOCUS Award for dramatic short and the Chicago Film Festival’s 1989 Silver Plaque.

Reached at his New York office yesterday, Fine Line president Ira Deutchman said Scorsese has been involved with the film since Algrant began developing the story while a student at Columbia.

“Marty decided that this was a kid who had a lot of talent that he wanted to work with,” Deutchman said. “He’s been involved on this project for some time and has been working on the rewrites. He’s going to be very active in supporting the project.”

Saying that “Naked in New York” fits into Fine Line’s slate of films, Deutchman added that it was the combination of Algrant’s reputation as a “hot, new filmmaker” and Scorsese’s championing of the project that attracted the top-notch cast.

“The fact is a lot of casts are being attracted these days to smaller projects where they get a chance to do things that are a little more adventurous ,” he said, adding, “Part of the strategy in the selling of this film is the strong cast.”

For Columbia TriStar Home Video, “Naked in New York” is an addition to the list of movies it has financed by first-time directors, including Steven Soderbergh’s “sex, lies and videotape,” Tony Drazen’s “Zebrahead” and Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg’s “Waterdance.”

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