Multimedia revs up longform

Multimedia Motion Pictures, which has kept a relatively low profile since being formed two years ago through the assumption of staff and talent from Orbis Communications, is quietly stepping up its longform production activity, with a dozen hours ordered and at least 30 more in development at broadcast and cable networks.

The company, whose small roster of producers includes Steve Krantz and Roger Gimbel, has projects in or about to begin production that include “Dazzle,” a four-hour Judith Krantz miniseries for CBS from Steve Krantz Prods.; “Donato and Daughter,” a Charles Bronson-Dana Delany telefilm, also for the Eye Web; and another Steve Krantz production, “Conspiracy of Terror,” which begins lensing next month for NBC.

Also at the Peacock Web is “Murder Between Friends,” a true-crime vidpic set in New Orleans starring Timothy Busfield; while “The Jan Kemp Story,” the true story of a U. of Georgia professor who received death threats after refusing to pass football players, is at HBO in association with producer Blue Andre.

The company also has a major commitment from NBC on a previously announced telefilm series, under the umbrella title “Commandos,” about elite rescue operations. The first, “Desperate Rescue: The Cathy Mahone Story,” aired last January, and a second mission is now being written by Dennis Hackin (“Bronco Billy”). Gimbel produced the first movie, with the remainder to be done in-house by Multimedia.

“Donato,” the father-daughter cop movie for CBS, could also yield a sequel, with a second script in the works. That project is one of two Multimedia pix to be distributed overseas by World Intl. Network.

Multimedia Motion Pictures president Neil Russell said the group changed its name (from Multimedia TV Prods.) about a year ago, positioning itself to do low-budget features in addition to telefilms. Although Multimedia is “not equipped to finance $ 30 million films,” Russell noted that technology is blurring the lines between TV and theatrical exhibition.

Multimedia Entertainment is a major player on the syndication side with its strips “Donahue,””Sally Jessy Raphael,””Rush Limbaugh” and “Jerry Springer,” but Russell said there are no plans at this point to expand into production of first-run movies. “The (economics) don’t work out,” he said. “Everybody wants a network picture for less money.”

Multimedia also has deals with producers Allan B. Schwartz, Barry Weitz and Neil C. Livingstone. Other recent Multimedia productions include Krantz’s “Torch Song,” which aired recently on ABC.

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