Whitaker, Giamatti may join karaoke pic
Gwyneth Paltrow and her director father Bruce will attempt to croon “Duets” once again, this time for Buena Vista Film Sales.
The foreign sales division of the Walt Disney Co. has acquired international rights to the karaoke pic, which has Paltrow fille, Forest Whitaker and Paul Giamatti (“Saving Private Ryan”) in final negotiations to star.
“Duets” is the second high-profile negative pickup that BV Film Sales has made — demonstrating its increasing forays into indie film production — in the past six weeks. The company inked a similar distribution arrangement on the Sandra Bullock starrer “Gun Shy” at the beginning of August.
Kevin Jones, Bruce Paltrow and John Byrum are producing “Duets” from Byrum’s screenplay. Peter Hoffman’s Seven Arts Pictures is exec producing.
Many other companies have flirted with “Duets,” including Columbia Pictures and Intermedia Films. Originally, when the pic was at Col, it was slated to star Gwyneth and her then-fiance Brad Pitt, and budgeted at around $16 million.
However, it fell apart when the couple split in July 1997. TV director Bruce Paltrow subsequently tried to set “Duets” up as an indie pic. Gwyneth stayed with the project as it moved around town (Daily Variety, June 23).
Under the new arrangement, BV Film Sales, which is headed by Buena Vista Intl. senior VP of business affairs and acquisitions Jere Hausfater, and VP of acquisitions Anne Sterling, will handle overseas distribution.
The music-driven “Duets” is a light-hearted look at the karaoke phenomenon seen through the eyes of six differing individuals.
Buena Vista Film Sales VP of sales Michael Dragotto will introduce the pic to foreign buyers at November’s Mifed film market. However, BVI and Buena Vista Home Entertainment may withhold certain territories.
Gwyneth Paltrow currently is riding high in the international market with the success of Intermedia Films’ “Sliding Doors,” which Miramax distributed theatrically in the U.S.
United Talent Agency’s Dan Aloni and Howard Cohen are repping the pic for domestic distribution.
Casting agent Francine Maisler is putting together the rest of the cast for a late November start in Vancouver.
BV Film Sales’ thriller “Judas Kiss” screened in Toronto. The division’s other pics include Spike Lee’s “He Got Game,” starring Denzel Washington.
CAA reps Paltrow and William Morris Agency reps Whitaker.