NEW YORK — Peter Facinelli will star in the Columbia film “The Party” and the indie film “Shepherd.” The actor moves up to lead status after co-starring in “Telling You” with Jennifer Love Hewitt, and in “Touch Me” alongside Michael Vartan and Amanda Peete.

In “Party,” he joins Hewitt and Ethan Embry in the coming-of-age film written and directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, with Betty Thomas and Jenno Topping producing. It’s an ensemble about six high schoolers on graduation night.

He’ll follow that immediately with “Shepherd,” written and to be directed by James F. Rowe. Pic will be produced by Sean Furst, Peter Glatzer and Galt Niedenhoffer. It’s about a group of friends who attempt to cover up a murder committed by a mentally handicapped friend.

Facinelli is repped by William Morris’ Peter Levine and Michael Dowling, and managed by Joanne Horowitz.

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