Fox 2000 pacts ‘Soul’ men

“Soul Food” writer-director George Tillman and producer Bob Teitel have inked an two-year, first-look production pact with Fox 2000, the 20th Century Fox film division behind the duo’s current release.

Under the agreement, Fox 2000 has a blind script commitment to Tillman; some of Teitel’s producing chores will be exclusive.

Tillman and Teitel will have an office on the Fox lot, where they will develop projects for Tillman to write and direct and for Teitel to produce. According to Fox 2000 topper Laura Ziskin, the team also “has an appetite to do some producing beyond that, on other people’s films.”

The deal closed Friday on the eve of “Soul Food’s” powerful $11.2 million weekend opening.

Ziskin said that the studio and the filmmakers already are discussing their next project for Fox, although she said she couldn’t disclose information about it.

Tillman said he was very pleased to be based at Fox 2000, noting “Laura and (Fox 2000 exec VP) Kevin McCormick are filmmakers” who gave him a great deal of artistic latitude on “Soul Food.

**sbTogether before

**TX:Tillman and Teitel have worked together since their days as film students at Columbia College in Chicago. Tillman’s student film “Paula” — which Teitel produced — won prizes at seven student film festivals, including the Student Academy Awards and the Black Filmmaker’s Hall of Fame Awards.

The duo then raised money to finance their feature debut, “Scenes From the Soul.” It was picked up for about $1 million by Savoy Pictures but went unreleased when that company shuttered its feature distribution operation. The film is scheduled to air on HBO later this year.

**sbOther suitors

**TX:The pair came close to signing a deal with indie First Look Pictures to make “Soul Food.” But when they brought the film to Kenneth (Babyface) Edmonds about a possible soundtrack, he told them he wanted his company, Edmonds Entertainment, to make the film at Fox where he has a first-look deal.

“Soul Food” was produced by Tracey Edmonds and Teitel, with Babyface acting as exec producer.

Tillman and Teitel were repped in the deal by the William Morris Agency’s John Mass, Alan Gasmer and Rob Carlson.

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