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Toback’s back in ‘Black’

Pic is Palm's first feature

Chris Blackwell’s recently formed Palm Pictures is gearing up its first feature production, “Black and White,” writer-director James Toback’s follow-up to “Two Girls and a Guy.”

Oscar nominee Toback is set to begin shooting the racially charged drama in September.

Michael Mailer, Daniel Bigel and Ron Rotholz will produce. Executive producers are Edward R. Pressman and Palm’s Hooman Majd as well as Mark Burg and Oren Koules.

“Black and White” is a story about a group of privileged white New York City teens who have a reckless fascination with uptown hip-hop culture. The plot deals with the murder of a black youngster and the protection of the murderer by one of the white teen’s fathers.

The film is scheduled for theatrical release in 1999.

Blackwell, the iconoclastic music and hotel mogul who formed Island Records and helped launch the careers of such superstars as Bob Marley and U2, formed his entertainment venture last spring.

Last year, Blackwell parted ways with Island Pictures and Island Records, which he had sold to Polygram in 1994 and 1990, respectively.

Under the Palm tree

Palm, wholly owned by Blackwell’s Islandlife umbrella group, has offices in New York, Miami, Chicago, London, San Francisco and Kingston, Jamaica. The company’s Los Angeles office is set to open at the end of the month.

So far, the L.A. production staff consists of former Island senior VP Dan Genetti. Burg, a longtime Blackwell associate, and Koules will also set up shop there, but as independent producers.

Last February, Palm picked up worldwide rights to the music-driven indie pic “Six-String Samurai,” which is scheduled for a limited release Sept. 25.

Pressman produced and Mailer and Bigel exec produced Toback’s “Two Girls and a Guy,” an April release by Fox Searchlight that starred Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham and Natasha Gregson Wagner.

Toback received an Oscar nom for his original screenplay “Bugsy.” He also wrote and directed “Fingers” (1978) and “The Pick-Up Artist” (1987).

“I have great respect for (Palm’s) independent spirit, creative support and the freedom they allow film directors, which I know is a carryover from their Island Pictures and Records days,” Toback said.

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