Par, De Line finalize pic production pact

Exec unfurling banner on lot

Paramount Pictures and Donald De Line have finalized their anticipated three-year, first-look deal, under which the former Touchstone Pictures production topper has established the De Line Pictures banner, which will be based on the Par lot.

While neither De Line nor Paramount would discuss specific details of the pact that was announced Monday by Paramount Motion Pictures president John Goldwyn, it is understood that Paramount will underwrite a discretionary fund from which De Line can draw.

De Line, currently ensconced in temporary offices, told Daily Variety that he would be hiring two principal development execs to join him at the new production banner.

Paramount Motion Pictures Group chairwoman Sherry Lansing said, “I’m very proud and excited that (De Line) will be part of the Paramount family.”

Ankled Mouse

With nearly 18 months left on his contract with the Walt Disney Co., De Line in July ankled his post as president of production for Touchstone Pictures. And though at the time he said he was considering various options, it was expected he would land a plum production deal at one of the majors.

Among the speculation that arose after his departure, De Line was rumored to be setting up shop at Columbia Pictures or possibly joining producer Scott Rudin’s Par-based company.

“I’ve known Donald for years, and I am delighted that after an extremely successful career as a top studio executive, he’s decided to establish his own production company here with us,” Goldwyn said.

Hit parade

During his five-year tenure as president of production for Touchstone, De Line oversaw the development and production of such films as “Con Air,” “Ransom,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Armageddon,” and “Six Days, Seven Nights.” He also supervised such upcoming pics as “Beloved,” helmed by Jonathan Demme and starring Oprah Winfrey; “An Enemy of the State,” produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman under Tony Scott’s helm; the Wes Anderson-helmed “Rushmore”; and “The Other Sister,” directed by Garry Marshall.

Though De Line has spent most of the past 13 years stationed on Disney’s Burbank lot, during his time as Touchstone prexy he worked with Par execs on the Touchstone/Paramount co-productions “Face/Off,” “Snake Eyes” and the upcoming “A Civil Action,” helmed by Steve Zaillian and starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall.

“Paramount has offered me the ideal environment in which to develop motion pictures,” said De Line. “Through Paramount and Touchstone’s various co-productions, I’ve come to know and respect Jon Dolgen, Sherry Lansing, Rob Friedman, John Goldwyn, Michelle Manning and the rest of the Paramount team, so this is like a homecoming for me.”

De Line joined Walt Disney Studios in 1985 as a director of production, after working as a casting and drama development exec with ABC Entertainment. He was promoted a year later to VP of production for “The Disney Sunday Movie,” for which he was the principal production exec overseeing production of the ABC anthology show.

After a nine-month stint as president of actor Michael J. Fox’s production banner, Snowback Prods., De Line returned to Disney in 1988, serving as vice president of production for Walt Disney Pictures. He joined Touchstone in 1990 as senior VP and the following year was upped to exec VP before being named president of production in 1993.

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