Leary joins Spanky gang

NEW YORK — Things are going pretty well for Ted Demme and Joel Stillerman: Their Spanky Pictures just moved into spacious new downtown offices and finished lensing its second feature film, “Noose.”

When it was established in January 1995, Spanky was housed in a cramped space in Gotham’s famed Brill Building — a locale rich in creative history but, at least in their office, short on elbow room. In their new expansive digs, the Spanky team is able to edit “Noose” inhouse.

The pic, about a low-level Irish hood in Boston who clashes with the neighborhood boss, is a co-production with Denis Leary’s Apostle Films, with Leary writing the script and Demme directing. Their relationship dates to the days when they worked together on Leary’s MTV promo spots and specials. The Demme-Stillerman partnership also began at MTV, where Stillerman was a production exec.

Spanky (named for the Little Rascals character) inked a two-year first-look deal with New Line a year ago and has a handful of films in the pipeline, but Demme and Stillerman have not abandoned their TV beginnings entirely: They have produced several music and comedy specials for cable, and have a new project in the works at MTV.

Demme, the nephew of director Jonathan Demme, also maintains a sideline of producing commercials, including AT&T’s recent spots with Paul Reiser and IBM’s John McEnroe campaign. “It allows me to keep working and allows me not to have to make a movie for money,” Demme says.

Spanky’s first feature film, 1996 release “Beautiful Girls,” was set up for distribution at Miramax, but the company will have to peddle “Noose” for a distrib. “We already know how to make a film,” Demme says. “Now we have to learn to sell it.”

Other films in the works at Spanky include “Rounders,” about a reformed gambler drawn back into New York’s underground poker world to help a friend pay off loan sharks, which is set up at Miramax and expected to start lensing in fall; “Blow,” also a co-production with Leary’s Apostle, spanning the 30-year evolution of drugs in the U.S.; and “A Bone in the Throat,” a screenplay recently optioned by New Line for Spanky to produce, based on Anthony Bourdaine’s mobster novel.

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