Miramax, BGE ink film deal

Pact reunites Weinsteins, Grey

Talent management firm Brillstein-Grey Entertainment is accelerating its motion picture ambitions with a first-look film deal at Miramax Films.

The pact marks a reunion between Miramax co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein and BGE chairman Brad Grey — who got his start in the industry working for the Weinsteins, and collaborating on their 1981 slasher pic “The Burning.”

“I’ve waited more than 15 years to be back in business with Brad,” Harvey Weinstein told Daily Variety. “There’s no way that (he and) his guys can’t make premiere movies. We’re all totally energized by this deal.”

BGE’s motion picture division, headed by Michael Siegel and Matthew Baer, will produce both independent movies and bigger-budget fare for Miramax and genre division Dimension Films.

The two companies already have a couple of projects together. Grey and BGE’s Peter Safran are executive producing the spoof “Scream If You Know What I Did Last Halloween” for Dimension. Last week, Dimension bought the action novel “Medal of Honor” for Grey and Siegel to produce.

Pacting with BGE gives the Weinsteins an inside edge with the company’s client list, which includes the likes of Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Elmore Leonard, Adam Sandler, Bill Maher and Courteney Cox.

While the BGE/Miramax deal nominally covers film only, Grey emphasized the synergies that exist between the two organizations.

“We’ll be combining all our resources with all their resources,” Grey said. “We’re looking at what this (deal) can bring in a number of ways.”

Miramax is in the process of expanding into television and publishing, among other areas. Weinstein noted BGE’s management and literary list, and its TV successes including “The Sopranos,” “Politically Incorrect” and “Just Shoot Me.”

“Brillstein-Grey is underrated (in film),” Weinstein said. “It just hasn’t achieved what it’s capable of doing.”

BGE was previously based at Universal Studios for both film and TV, although it didn’t put any pics into production during its term. BGE formed the television company BGTV at Sony in May.

“We’ve built a meaningful television studio and a strong management company,” Grey continued. “Now it’s about getting the same authority in the motion picture business.”

BGE has set up a number of projects this year, including a live-action adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for Warner Bros.; Michael Caton-Jones’ “City by the Sea,” with Al Pacino attached, also for Warner Bros.; and historical drama “Lou Zamperini,” with Cage starring, for Universal.

Grey said he expected BGE to produce two to three films a year for Miramax. “We’re going to keep a close eye on quality and not bite off more than we can chew,” he said.

BGE’s slate includes:

  • “The Just” — A suspense thriller from “X-Files” scribes Steven Katz and Frank Spotnitz, in development at U.

  • “Whispers” — A sports comedy that BGE will co-produce with Sonnenfeld-Josephson and Howard Rosenman for Disney. Script is by Gerald DiPego and John Herzfeld.

  • “American Neurotic” — A comedy being developed for BGE client Adam Sandler at Columbia Pictures.

  • “Charming Billy” — Based on the National Book Award winner by Alice McDermott. Scripted by Paul Gurian and exec produced by Steve Zaillian.

  • “Smuggler’s Moon” — A true story about marijuana smugglers, being developed as a starring vehicle for BGE client Brad Pitt. Charlie Mitchell is scripting and Industry Entertainment is co-producing with Grey and BGE’s Cynthia Pett-Dante.

Prior to U, BGE’s film deal was at Sony, where it co-produced “The Cable Guy” and “The Replacement Killers.” Grey also exec produced three Sandler vehicles: “The Wedding Singer,” “Happy Gilmore” and “Bulletproof.”

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