Will also give Empire goods to Cooper/CTV venture
Producer Michael Birnbaum has been tapped to serve as senior VP at Landscape Entertainment, the film, television and Internet venture that Robert Cooper launched earlier this year in association with Canadian broadcasting giant CTV.With Birnbaum’s Empire Pictures also entering an overall production deal with Landscape, Birnbaum will be responsible for Landscape’s corporate development and strategic planning as well as producing features for Landscape under his Empire banner. Birnbaum will be based in Landscape’s Los Angeles offices. He is currently producing the untitled Barry Levinson project (aka “Outlaws”), which stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett for MGM and Hyde Park Entertainment. Shooting is skedded to start Sept. 25. Birnbaum also recently set up “Art Con of the Century” at MGM; pic is being developed as a starring vehicle for Michael Douglas (Daily Variety, June 28). Birnbaum produces with Douglas’ Furthur Films, from a script by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang based on the New York Times Sunday magazine cover story by Peter Landesman. “Michael is that rare breed in Hollywood — someone who combines sophisticated business and financial acumen with extraordinary creative sensibilities,” said Cooper. “I am thrilled that he has joined Landscape, and expect that his unique blend of talents will make a striking contribution.” Birnbaum said, “I am thrilled to join Bob Cooper, one of the industry’s most creative and talented executives, in his exciting endeavor. I have always been bootstrapping myself, and it’s a rare opportunity to have a mentor, especially one with the breadth of relationships that Bob has.” Birnbaum began his career with Merrill Lynch Capital Markets in Gotham as senior financial analyst for its entertainment and media merger and acquisitions group, where he worked on such transactions as the sale of MGM/UA and the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications. In 1990, Birnbaum joined Spelling Entertainment as director of strategic planning and was later promoted to VP of corporate development. At Spelling, he was involved in the acquisition of the Carolco Pictures library and the formation of its international sales arm, Spelling Films Intl. Before forming Empire, Birnbaum was senior veep at ITC Entertainment Group, where he functioned as head of production and development. Landscape recently announced a deal to create miniseries for NBC Television and telepics for F/X as well deals with Larry Gelbart, David Cronenberg and Zak Penn for the company’s Internet division, EZ Flix.