After a three-year arranged marriage by Touchstone prexy David Hoberman, Disney-based producers Wendy Dozoretz and Ellen Collett have decided to get a divorce where all future projects are concerned.
The producers, who produced Touchstone’s 1991 thriller “Deceived” during their recently expired term deal at Disney, will remain partners on 10 or so works they have in development at the studio and internally under their Collett/Dozoretz banner.
“We just had different goals in mind having to do most with taste and the kind of movies we each want to make,” said Dozoretz, formerly a creative executive with A&M Films.
She said the kinds of projects “that really excite me are more psychologically oriented. … I would love to make family movies, which Disney does the best.”
During her tenure at A&M, Dozoretz associate-produced the Paul Newman starrer “Blaze,” which the indie company developed and produced for Touchstone.
Previously, she was at Rastar Prods., rising from story editor to director of development, working on such pictures as “The Secret of My Success” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.”
Prior to her partnership with Dozoretz, Collett headed Gale Anne Hurd’s Pacific Western Prods.
Taking a ‘quirky’ path
“My taste is not defined by what the studios make more and more these days,” Collett said. “I don’t want to be limited to work with the majors. I tend to like things that are quirky and off the beaten track.”
To that end, Collett said she has named her new company Orphan Films, for “movies that maybe wouldn’t have an obvious clear home at a big studio that need caretaking and parenting.”
Collett started her career in the independent sector working at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures (from 1985-86).
While she was associated with Hurd at her two Columbia Pictures-based production entities, Pacific Western and No Frills Films, she served as associate producer on Ron Underwood’s feature directorial debut “Tremors” for Universal.
She also served an 18-month stint as assistant to British director Tony Garnet at Warner Bros.
Disney base continues
Both Collett and Dozoretz, who acknowledged they had been discussing a parting of the ways for the past couple of months, said they will remain based at Disney for the foreseeable future until they map out their respective futures , though their three-year first-look deal expired two weeks ago.
They characterized the split as “completely friendly” and emphasized that they will continue to collaborate on projects they have jointly developed over the past three years.
Collett noted, “We were in an arranged marriage by Disney, it was really interesting and a lot of good stuff came of it.”
The producers are in pre-production on a telepic for Lifetime called “Other Women’s Children,” based on a screenplay by Rami Stagner from a novel by Perri Klass, to be directed by Anne Wheeler (“Bye Bye Blues”).
Production begins April 13 on the piece about a woman pediatrician who is torn between her obligations to her family and to the terminally ill children she treats.
The projects Collett and Dozoretz have in development at Disney/Touchstone:
o “Boots,” an original comedy by Lamar Damon being revised by Gina Wendkos, is about a Las Vegas showgirl who marries a small-town Texas principal and takes over as coach of the high school drill team.
o “Clover,” about a white woman who must raise a 10-year-old black girl when the child’s father is suddenly killed soon after their new marriage. Joe Vasquez (“Hangin’ With the Homeboys”) will direct from his own screen adaptation of Dori Sanders’ novel.
o “Crossbow,” an adventure epic about the legendary Swiss archer William Tell , written by Duncan Gibbins (“Eve of Destruction”).
o “No Language But a Cry,” a drama adapted by Darlene Craviotto from Dr. Richard D’Ambrosio’s non-fiction book about the relationship between a Park Avenue psychiatrist and a charity case he takes on — an abused 10-year-old girl from a Catholic orphanage who has never spoken.
o “Washington Slept Here,” an original screenplay by Claudia Salter that is to be rewritten by David Noonan. It is set against a Democratic presidential convention and examines the unique ways in which women wield power.
In internal development at Collett/Dozoretz:
o “The Dreyfus Affair,” an interracial gay love story/comedy set in the world of baseball; scripted by Peter Lefcourt from his novel.
o “Walk a Crooked Mile,” an original action/thriller by Elizabeth Chandler about a female cop, framed by her fellow officers, who must go into the criminal underground to clear her name and nail the true villains.
Taking a ‘Walk’
The producers are going out to other studios with “Walk,” since Disney put it into turnaround.
Dozoretz and Collett said they have two additional projects pending at Disney — one an original pitch, the other a novel with a writer attached — but added that the works couldn’t be identified until the deals are done.