Beefing up their film operations, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, co-founders of the Bedford Falls Co., have hired Suzanne Patmore as senior VP of development.

The producing-directing duo also announced that longtime senior VP of production Sarah Caplan is moving over to become an independent producer with a first-look deal with Bedford Falls. She will continue to produce projects for Bedford Falls.

“Sarah is a rarity in this business: a truly passionate producer. With the completion of (the upcoming feature) ‘Venice,’ she has the means finally to pursue that passion, thus broadening the scope of what our company can deliver,” Herskovitz and Zwick said in a statement. “And Suzanne brings to our company a vision of filmmaking consistent with the kind of challenging material we’ve always been drawn to.”

Herskovitz told Daily Variety the company experienced growing pains this year when he, Zwick and Caplan simultaneously were stretched between film projects and the current ABC TV series “Relativity” — resulting in Bedford Falls virtually “being shut down” while they were away.

“In the past we’ve always directed projects we’ve produced,” Herskovitz said. “But this year, the first time in 15 years, we were all gone at the same time. We realized that when we develop projects only for us to direct, we end up narrowing the pipeline of development.”

Herskovitz added that while he and Zwick will continue to direct films they also produce, the hiring of Patmore and Caplan’s new role initiate the expansion of Bedford Falls into a production company producing projects helmed by other directors.

Patmore, former VP of development at Charles Gordon’s Universal-based Daybreak Prods., will oversee all feature film development for Bedford Falls, which has a first-look deal with Fox 2000.

Before Daybreak, Patmore was a creative associate at Sean Daniel and Jim Jacks’ Alphaville Prods.

Caplan’s credits with Herskovitz and Zwick include co-producer of the Zwick-helmed “Legends of the Fall,” associate producer on Zwick’s “Glory,” development exec on “thirtysomething” and producer on Herskovitz’s “Venice.”

Among the projects Herskovitz and Zwick have in development are an untitled political thriller at Castle Rock, being written by “Usual Suspects” scribe Chris McQuarrie; “I’ll Take Manhattan” at Warner Bros.; an untitled CIA project at Warner Bros. being scripted by John Lee Hancock (“Perfect World”); and “Newlyweds,” with Robert Kuhn (“The Cure”) penning the screenplay for Fox 2000.

Herskovitz recently wrapped production on New Regency’s “Venice,” starring Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell and Jacqueline Bisset. Herskovitz and Zwick are also producing that film.

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