With the completion of loft-like 7,000-square-feet offices in Santa Monica, Bruce Willis and Arnold Rifkin have officially launched their production company, Cheyenne Enterprises, while unveiling eight feature and five TV projects.
Under the new arrangement, Rifkin will no longer rep Willis; those duties will be the sole domain of Willis’ attorney, Skip Brittenham.
While no domestic distribution deal is yet set, the shingle — personally financed by Willis and Rifkin — has closed a three-year, first-look pact with 20th Century Fox TV for multiple series and a two-year, first-look deal with Hearst Entertainment Prods. for longform programming. These pacts grew out of CBS topper Les Moonves’ initial commitments to Willis and Rifkin.
“Cheyenne Enterprises was born out of the 17-year association that Bruce and I have enjoyed,” Rifkin told Daily Variety. “Our goal in this partnership is to establish a creative environment which will allow us to use our relationships in the entertainment community to seek out, develop and produce film and television projects that reflect our tastes and sensibilities.”
Willis added: “Over the course of my career, I’ve encountered so many talented people, with so many great film and TV ideas. The creation of Cheyenne will allow me to work with these creative people and see their ideas to fruition. I consider Cheyenne a natural extension of my career and my relationship with Arnold.”
Rifkin said the types of pics the company makes will reflect his and Willis’ eclectic taste for material — which ranges from light comedies to action pics to franchisable projects. None of this material is dependent on Willis starring.
Shingle, which borrows its name from the Indian tribe, has quietly been striking deals, including a first-look pact with writer-director Holly Goldberg Sloan, who will work inhouse to develop film and TV projects.
Company is shooting “Bandits,” with Barry Levinson directing and Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett starring. Cheyenne is producing in association with Baltimore/Spring Creek and Hyde Park.
Company has “Hart’s War” in pre-production; pic, to be helmed by Gregory Hoblit, will star Willis and Colin Farrell. Cheyenne is producing the MGM release in association with David Ladd Prods. and David Foster.
In pre-production for the small screen is an untitled Glenn Gordon Caron series being produced in association with Picturemaker and Paramount Domestic Television for Fox Broadcasting Co.
Cheyenne’s slate includes the following features:
- “Pursuit of Happiness,” from writer-director Glenn Gordon Caron, to be produced for MGM in association with Picturemaker Prods.
- “One for All,” an adaptation of a Claude Lelouch film that Heidi Ferrar is penning. Pic will be produced in association with Debra Chase and Whitney Houston’s Brownhouse Prods. as the first of a two-pic deal among Brownhouse, Cheyenne and MGM.
- “Reunion,” a scary and spiritual period piece based on a true story, being penned by Mark Bomback and produced in association with Cosgrove-Meurer for MGM.
- “Man of War,” a vehicle for Willis, penned by Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo and produced in association with Mike Lobell Prods. for Revolution Studios.
- An untitled comedy being written by Greg Chase and Adam Malins, based on an idea from Willis and Carmine Zozzora, also set up at Revolution.
- “Extractors,” penned by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox and produced in association with Hyde Park and MGM.
- “Ladyluck,” a script by Jonathan Bernstein, Mark Blackwell and James Greer that’s been optioned by New Regency. Scribes also have struck a blind commitment for an additional script with New Regency.
In addition, the shingle has optioned the Stephen King novel “Bag of Bones” and is in early discussions with a scribe to adapt it.
On the TV front, Cheyenne has on air “Courage,” a one-hour reality show on the Fox Family Channel, exec produced with Danny Glover and Carrie Prods.
In development are the following projects:
- “Uncle Bucky,” a half-hour comedy to star Dom Irrera, based on a concept developed by Willis.
- “Never Again,” a one-hour drama pilot to be produced with Thomopoulos Prods.
- “Tin City,” a pilot by writer-producer Tommy Thompson, to be produced in association with Thomopoulos Prods. for Fox Studios.
- “Touching Evil,” a one-hour drama being adapted and penned by Bruno Heller and produced in association with USA Studios.
A talent manager for more than 25 years, Rifkin was a founding partner in Triad Artists, where he began his association with Willis. After the William Morris Agency acquired Triad in 1992, Rifkin headed WMA’s worldwide motion picture division. In 1996 he became agency prexy, a title he held until he ankled in August 1999.
Willis, who recently starred in “Disney’s The Kid,” will next be seen in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable.”
Cheyenne is repped by Brittenham and Bryan Wolf at Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca and Fischer.