Prism Pictures will distribute a series of 12 films that Crystal Sky Communications is producing. Pix will be shot over the next 18 months, and each is based on a novella or short story by Mark Twain.

Budget for each, according to Crystal Sky development and acquisitions veep Gary Binkow, will be in the $ 1.5 million range.

Financing will come from Crystal Sky’s lenders and Prism advances.

Pix are targeted for cable or free TV and homevideo markets. Prism holds all U.S. rights, and will release the programs to the domestic homevid rental market itself, over the next two or three years. Crystal Sky retains international rights.

First of the projects to begin production will be Twain’s “The Million Pound Bank Note” on Dec. 4. As with all of the projects, it will be set in modern times with contemporary references. Crystal Sky has retitled it “A Million to One” and scripters are Francisca Matos, Robert Grassmere and Paul Rodriguez.

Rodriguez will star in and direct “A Million to One,” which will also feature Edward James Olmos, Ally Sheedy, Paul Williams, Tony Plana, Ruben Blades, Esai Morales, James Brolin and Rosana De Soto.

The second project, skedded to begin production six weeks later, is “The Star Who Corrupted Hadleyburg” to star Judge Reinhold.

Future productions will include a hip-hop musical based on “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,””The Prince and the Pauper,” and others that will involve Steve Guttenberg, Jim Belushi, Jon Voight and Rick Schroeder, according to Binkow.

According to Prism Pictures president Barbara Javitz, the product will meet a demand for family-oriented programming. Following exploitation in the vid rental market, Prism will offer the tapes for sell-through as a collectible series.

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