3-year prod'n deal includes pact with Lakeshore

Lynda Obst has inked an exclusive three-year film production deal with Paramount Pictures and Lakeshore Entertainment.

Under the joint agreement, Paramount will finance and distribute Obst’s bigger-budgeted, star-driven pics, while Lakeshore will handle her under-$10 million, niche-oriented projects.

Additionally, Lakeshore will co-finance with Paramount any Obst-produced pics on which the studio brings in a co-producing partner.

Of the two-tiered deal, Obst said: “I’ve always been in the studio system where my mandate was to make star-driven films. The freedom to find new ways of getting pictures made is exciting to me.”

Over the next few weeks, Obst will relocate her Lynda Obst Prods. banner to the Par lot from 20th Century Fox, where her previous deal recently ended.

While Obst would not specifically comment on the makeup of her staff at Paramount, she said she would be “keeping some people and looking to hire some new people.”

The producer still has a number of products in active development at Fox, including “Animal Husbandry,” the Tony Goldwyn-helmed “Georgia Rules,” and “The Wishbones” to which director Noah Bambach is attached. She also brings a number of development projects with her to her new Paramount roost, including an adaptation of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”

Another unusual aspect of the pact is Paramount’s agreement to use Lakeshore as co-financier of choice. Paramount tends to bring in production partners on almost every expensive film, and even many more moderately priced projects.

“This way I don’t wake up one morning with a different co-financier,” said Obst.

Obst, who wrote the bestselling behind-the-scenes look at showbiz, “Hello, He Lied,” said it also was a goal of hers to write a screenplay “when I get the time.”

The move to Paramount is something of a reunion for Obst. In 1985, then-Par exec Dawn Steel gave Obst her start as a producer. At the time, Obst was partnered with producer Debra Hill in Hill/Obst Prods.

In 1989, Obst set up her own production company and moved to Columbia Pictures, where she produced “The Fisher King” (with Hill), Nora Ephron’s “This is My Life” and exec produced “Sleepless in Seattle.”

At Fox, Obst produced four films: “The Siege,” “Bad Girls,” One Fine Day” and “Hope Floats.”

Obst, a former journalist, began her Hollywood career in 1979 as development executive for Peter Guber’s Casablanca/Polygram where she developed “Flashdance” and “Clue” and an adaptation of Carl Sagan’s “Contact.” In 1982, she joined the David Geffen Co., also as a development exec.

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