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Polone ankles Hearst to be indie producer

Producer Judith Polone is severing ties to Hearst Entertainment with seven months remaining on her contract and will go the independent route, taking several projects in development with her.

Polone, who served as president of Hearst Entertainment before forming the Polone Co. in conjunction with the production company in December 1990, confirmed the move, saying she is interested in expanding her involvement in feature films and cable — areas that were of less interest to the Hearst Corp. division.

Several already ordered projects will remain with Hearst, with Polone as exec producer. They include the four-hour ABC miniseries “JFK: Reckless Youth,” based on the Nigel Hamilton best-seller; and the CBS movie “Murder of Innocence,” starring Valerie Bertinelli. Both will begin production in July.

Polone will take material in development, such as a planned feature written by Alexandra Seros (“Point of No Return”) and a fact-based telefilm based on the book “Blood Rites: Black Dahlia.” Other pix in development are “Gone,” based on the Kit Craig book, and “Riders of the Purple Sage.”

Since moving into the producer role, Polone has been one of Hearst’s most prolific suppliers. Last year, Polone made five TV movies in association with the company, including “A Kiss to Die For” and “Darkness Before Dawn” for NBC and ABC’s “Inner Sanctum.”

Polone was named president at Phoenix Entertainment Group shortly after the company was formed by co-chairmen Gerald Isenberg and Jerry Abrams in 1985. Phoenix was acquired in 1989 by Hearst Corp., which changed the name to King-Phoenix and subsequently Hearst Entertainment.

Prior to the formation of Phoenix, Polone served as exec VP of TV at ITC Entertainment and director of development at its forebear, Marble Arch Prods.

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