Republic’s bullish on telepix

HOLLYWOOD — Republic Pictures Prods., fresh off a recapitalization of the company, is pressing forward with a TV movie slate that includes two projects in production, a third on order and eight more in active development.

Blockbuster Entertainment Corp. and Las Vegas hotel magnate Steve Wynn acquired 35% and 10% stakes, respectively, earlier this year in Republic. Company has movies in the works at all three networks as well as an order from Lifetime on fact-based “The Exxon Kidnapping,” exec produced by Tim Hill, Danielle Hill and Karen Danaher-Dorr.

The company also has major talent — Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara and Dana Delany — committed to “An Empty Place,” an original story for ABC about parents coping with the death of their son, written by Jennifer Miller and exec produced by Danaher-Dorr.

The movies in production are “Conviction: The Kitty Dodds Story,” another true story, about a man who discovers his wife is a convicted murderer, starring Veronica Hamel and Kevin Dobson and exec produced by Helena Hacker Rosenberg; and NBC’s already announced “Lying in Wait,” with JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy and Lindsay Crouse, about a woman who murders her abusive husband. Laurie Levit and Jay Benson are exec producing.

Much of Republic’s development falls into the true-crime genre, after a period in which the company produced such stately period pieces as “Separate but Equal” and “Son of the Morning Star,” only to see those miniseries crash in the ratings.

History of the Republic

Chairman Russell Goldsmith said the market has shifted toward true crime but that Republic is still interested in such historical pieces, adding, “Television reflects and depicts (society), and when the audience shifts away from something , no one is faster than television” in responding to it.

Although the industry has taken considerable heat on Capitol Hill because of true-crime titles, Republic exec VP Ellen Endo-Dizon said the webs are “under a little more of a microscope” but continue to evaluate such material on a case-by-case basis.

Republic has three movies in development at CBS: “Armed and Innocent,” true story of a young boy defending his home at gunpoint, with Christy Welker, Chuck McClain and the Hills as exec producers; “The Nanny,” a co-production with Beta Taurus, exec produced by Adoley Odunton, about a woman accused in the death of the child in her care; and “In Bed With a Killer,” about a young woman who suspects her husband is a serial killer, from Danaher-Dorr and the Hills.

Karen Mack is exec producer on two more movies being planned at ABC: “Murder in Central City”– on which talkshow host Sally Jessy Raphael and Ellyn Williams are also exec producers — the true story of a woman who leaves her husband and becomes involved in a murder plot; and “Dark Visions,” about an obsessive love affair that leads to murder.

Danaher-Dorr, who’s involved with five Republic movies, is also behind “Stand By Your Man,” a switched-identity concept written by Allan Leicht; and “A Kiss After Dying,” about a detective seeking to nab the businessman accused of killing his wife, both for NBC. Odunton and Joan Stein will also exec produce the latter.

Although the company has dabbled with series in the past, such as “Beauty and the Beast,” Goldsmith said there are currently no plans to get back into that arena.

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