MGM signs ‘Benny’ producers for 1st look

Hot on the heels of upcoming love story “Benny & Joon,” producers Donna Roth and Susan Arnold have inked a first-look production deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, according to MGM co-chairman Alan Ladd Jr.

In an attempt to harness some hot new talent for the MGM stable, Ladd signed the producing team to an initial 18-month first-look deal before the April release of their “Benny & Joon,” starring Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson and Aidan Quinn, and helmed by Jeremiah Chechik.

Prior to signing the MGM deal, the duo put “Unstrung Heroes” into development with Largo Entertainment, a one-shot deal that stands despite the new arrangement, according to Arnold. “Fisher King” scripter Richard LaGravenese is adapting Franz Lidz’s novel. The pic will be helmed by “Used People” director Beeban Kidron.

“From this point on, we’ll be taking things to MGM for first look,” Arnold emphasized, “and the first project in development with this deal is ‘Summer Gloves,’ a novel by Sarah Gilbert, about three generations of beauty queens. We are now looking for a writer to adapt it into a screenplay.”

Partner Donna Roth said they were happy to commit to an MGM first-look deal based on their experience during “Benny & Joon.”

“I felt they really trusted us and that is the greatest feeling, so that makes us really happy about working with them again,” said Roth, wife of producer Joe Roth and daughter of Samuel Z. Arkoff.

Roth/Arnold will move offices from Culver City to MGM’s new Santa Monica offices some time this spring.

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