Lucchesi circling Lakeshore

Indie betting on vet's big-studio sensibility

Producer Gary Lucchesi is in talks to take over as president of Paramount-based Lakeshore Entertainment, people close to the negotiations said Thursday.

Lucchesi has held on-off talks with Lakeshore chairman and chief executive officer Tom Rosenberg since Joni Sighvatsson ankled the prexy post in late July.

Although it appears that Lucchesi has not concluded a final agreement with Lakeshore, and the exact nature of how his deal would break down was unclear, people close to the situation indicated that the talks were on the right track and close to fruition.

Lucchesi, who heads Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Film Co., as well as his own banner, Gary Lucchesi Prods., is likely to bring a big-budget, studio-picture sensibility to the indie production and foreign sales company.

In the past year, Lakeshore has moved toward financing or co-financing bigger-budget films, with “Arlington Road,” starring Tim Robbins and Jeff Bridges, to which Polygram Films has U.S. rights, and “Runaway Bride,” starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, which Par is distribbing domestically.

Lakeshore also is readying the Demi Moore starrer “Passion of Mind,” for Par’s newly formed classics division.

A former president of production at Paramount, Lucchesi has producing credits including “Primal Fear,” starring Richard Gere, “Three Wishes,” starring Patrick Swayze, “Virtuosity,” starring Denzel Washington, and “Jennifer 8,” starring Andy Garcia.

The one-time William Morris agent segued into a production deal at Paramount after quitting his position in 1991. Lately, he has been involved in Lloyd Webber’s attempts (thus far unsuccessful) to turn some of his hit legit musicals into films, including “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

Lakeshore declined to comment. Lucchesi could not be reached.

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