Tune-‘Smithee’ deal set

NEW YORK — Barraged with music tapes after he ran an ad soliciting music for “An Alan Smithee Film,” scribe Joe Eszterhas has sealed a soundtrack deal for the collection of songs he’s chosen with the rap label Priority Records.

The writer is producing the film with Ben Myron and, after he made his own cut of the film, became the man in charge when director Arthur Hiller removed himself and his name from the film.

Eszterhas, who said the Jive and Mercury labels were also interested, sealed the deal with Andrew Shack, senior VP of A&R for Priority. The EMI-owned diskery boasts a roster that includes Ice Cube.

“The deal we’ve struck gives each artist whose song appears in the movie $1,000,” Eszterhas said. “If it appears on the soundtrack, they get $2,500 additional, plus a percentage of the royalties. Plus, they still own the song, they don’t have to give up their publishing rights. It will give exposure to unknown artists who have not been signed up to deals.”

Shack said Priority has been trying to crack the soundtrack market, with films like “Friday,” and that “Smithee” fit its profile. Said Shack: “We saw Joe’s rough cut of the movie and loved it. We think that the fun nature of the ride will break it out on a national level.”

While prefacing in the ad that he’d given up his upfront compensation to complete the film and was essentially working for free on the film financed by cash-strapped Cinergi, Eszterhas took some lumps in the media for inviting musicians to submit music.

However, Eszterhas got 9,200 CD and cassette submissions. “I listened to everything that was sent to me, at least a couple tracks from every CD or cassette,” he said.There were a number of unusual entries. A ribald song from a Gotham group called Wench was written, Eszterhas discovered, by “Moonstruck” writer John Patrick Shanley. “It’s a song called ‘Fernando,’ and if the film winds up NC-17, Shanley’s song will be in the movie.”

The film is due out this fall under Hollywood Pictures.

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