Producer inks first-look deal

NEW YORK — Producer Laura Bickford has inked a first-look deal with Lawrence Bender Prods.

Bickford produced the Emmy-winning HBO telepic “Citizen X,” the Beacon drama “Playing God” and the indie “Bongwater.” She also produced “Traffic,” a Steve Gaghan-scripted adaptation of the British miniseries, which will be Steven Soderbergh’s next film after he wraps “Erin Brockovich.”

Bickford joins John Baldecchi as the second producer at Bender Prods. who will develop projects. Bender Prods. has a first-look deal at Miramax and a second-look deal at Fox. Upcoming projects under the Bender Prods. banner include “Anna and the King” at Fox 2000; “The Mexican,” a Joel Wyman-scripted project set up at Newmarket to star Brad Pitt; “Monster’s Ball,” a drama directed by Vondie Curtis Hall set up at FilmFour; and New Line’s “Knockaround Guys.”

“Laura has great taste and strong relationships with directors and writers, and I’m glad to be bringing her into the fold,” Lawrence Bender said.

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