Screen Gems backs ‘Black’

Toback's pic gets marketing, distrib help

Screen Gems, the new division at Sony, has partnered with Palm Pictures on the marketing and distribution of James Toback’s “Black and White.”

The completed pic, which cost just under $4 million, will play at both the upcoming Telluride and Toronto film festivals.

A Palm Pictures production, “Black and White” was produced by Michael Mailer, Daniel Bigel and Ron Rotholz. Executive producers are Palm Pictures’ Hooman Majd, Edward R. Pressman, Mark Burg and Oren Koules.

Gangsta lifestyle

“Black and White” centers on a filmmaker, played by Brooke Shields, who lenses a doc about privileged Manhattan prep schoolers infatuated with the Harlem gangsta lifestyle.

The film’s ensemble cast — said to have improvised their own dialogue around Toback’s storyline — includes Scott Cann, Robert Downey Jr., Stacy Edwards, Gaby Hoffman, the New York Knicks’ Allan Houston, Jared Leto, Marla Maples, Bijou Phillips, Claudia Schiffer, William Lee Scott, Ben Stiller, Elijah Wood, along with hip-hop stars Wu-Tang Clan and Method Man, heavyweight Mike Tyson and director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”).

Toback, who received an Oscar nom for his “Bugsy” screenplay, also wrote “The Gambler.” In addition, he wrote and directed “Two Girls and a Guy” and directed “The Big Bang,” “The Pick-up Artist,” “Exposed,” “Love and Money” and “Fingers.”

‘The perfect release’

Of the acquisition, Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Group (CTMPG) prexy Ken Lemberger said: “‘Black and White’ is the perfect Screen Gems release. It is exactly the type of project that Screen Gems was created to market and distribute.”

Toback expressed pleasure working with Screen Gems and Palm Pictures: “I love the people running both of those places,” he said. “They are people who allow you to try what you want to try and do what you want to do; they don’t breathe down your neck in a state of quasi-hysterical nervousness, dreading that their investment in you will not be profitable. I don’t know any other companies like them.”

Palm Pictures, recently formed by Chris Blackwell, produces, acquires and distributes independent films, focusing on DVDs.

Clint Culpepper, Screen Gems’ senior VP of acquisitions and production, brought “Black and White” to the company.

ICM’s CEO Jeff Berg repped Palm Pictures, negotiating along with Palm Pictures’ Hooman Majd and Michael Seltzer.

Peter Schlessel, CTMPG’s senior VP of acquisitions, along with Linda Meadow, prexy of business affairs, negotiated for Screen Gems.

(Oliver Jones in New York contributed to this report.)

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