Producer inks 1st-look deal with Mandalay

Dan Halsted, who for four years was partnered with Oliver Stone as president of Illusion Entertainment, has struck out on his own, inking a multi-year, first-look production deal with Mandalay Pictures.

Halsted, who becomes the only producer with such an arrangement at the Paramount-based indie, hopes to make the comedy “Servicing Sarah” by “Spin City” sitcom scribes Jay Scherick and David Ronn, his first Mandalay project.

Halsted also will continue to shepherd the tentatively titled “Beyond Borders,” to which Stone is attached to write and direct. The pic centers on a love story between two UN relief workers set against recent international conflicts.

Mandalay president Adam Platnick described the pact as a natural extension of Mandalay’s overall deal with Illusion. That deal officially ends this summer.

“It’s a natural fit,” Platnick told Daily Variety. “We really like Danny. He’s an excellent producer.”

Closing up shop

Stone and Halsted recently announced they were dissolving their 4-year-old production banner, because Stone had decided to devote his time and energy exclusively to writing and directing.

“I have a wonderful relationship with all the people at Mandalay, and I’m really excited to start my own company,” Halsted said.

This summer, Halsted will produce Franchise Pictures’ Wesley Snipes starrer “The Art of War” along with Snipes’ Amen Ra Films.

He recently produced Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” which will premiere at the Directors Fortnight at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival.

As president of Illusion, Halsted’s shepherded such pics as “The Corruptor,” “Freeway,” “Cold Around the Heart” and Stone’s upcoming “Any Given Sunday.”

Before teaming with Stone, Halsted was senior VP of production at Hollywood Pictures, overseeing such projects as “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Encino Man,” “Tombstone,” “Evita,” and “While You Were Sleeping.”

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