Mandoki, Gitlin form Mandolin Ent.

Commercial, musicvid sub-label big in plans

This article was corrected on September 20, 2000.

Director Luis Mandoki has partnered with producer Mimi Polk Gitlin to form Mandolin Entertainment, which has been staked by Propaganda Films to a first-look deal to develop features.

Propaganda will also rep Mandoki in commercial and musicvideo productions. Deal was made by Propaganda prexy Rick Hess and chief operating officer Trevor Macy.

One component of the company will be a commercial and musicvideo sub-label that will break in new talent to include emerging Latin filmmakers such as Alejandro Gonzales and Simon Bross.

Prime focus of the venture will be to hatch directing vehicles for Mandoki, who made his breakthrough with the Oscar-nominated “Gaby, a True Story” and followed with “White Palace,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Message in a Bottle” and the recently wrapped “Angel Eyes,” which stars Jennifer Lopez and Jim Caviezel. He has also directed commercials in Latin America and the U.S.; one won a top commercial prize in Brazil.

Perfect for the part

“Luis perfectly exemplifies the kind of director we’re building the company around because he has an international perspective and is involved in multiple media,” said Hess. “We believe we are very well positioned to support him not only in the movie business, but also in the commercial world as well.”

Mandoki joins a stable of directors like Steven Soderbergh, Simon West, Spike Jonze, Dominic Sena (“Gone in Sixty Seconds”) and Mark Pellington (“Arlington Road”). All but Soderbergh are highly active in commercial shoots.

Mandolin has assembled several seed projects for the venture. One is “Operation Garbo,” a WWII political thriller centering around Juan Pujol, a spy instrumental in the success of the Normandy Beach invasion who then faked his death to hide from the Nazis. He was eventually tracked down by journalist Nigel West, with whom he wrote a book before Pujol passed away for real. A second project is a romantic comedy called “Shampoo of Chefs.” Script by author Carol Wolper (“Cigarette Girl”) concerns a young aspiring chef who heads to Gotham for culinary fame only to find himself in a shark tank of cooks.

‘Grace’ on the griddle

Mandolin is also developing “Amazing Grace,” an action drama written by Kevin Bernhardt about the life of gangster Pretty Boy Floyd, and “Boom,” a Daniel Appleby-penned comedy to which Tony Drazen (“Hurlyburly”) is attached to direct.

Mandoki will run the company with Gitlin, who ran Ridley Scott’s company for 13 years and produced such films as “Thelma & Louise,” “White Squall,” “The Browning Version.”

“We’ve known each other since we came to this country at the same time and lived in the same apartment building on Laurel Canyon,” said Gitlin. “We reconnected when we were both married, each with three kids, with a company that works on several levels. Propaganda is a perfect fit for us.”

Deal was brokered by the William Morris Agency.

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