Porter unties Shoelace for new prod'n head position

In a strategic move to build up its production and development ranks, Fireworks Pictures, the U.S. production, financing and international sales subsidiary of CanWest, has hired exec Pliny Porter as head of production and development, a newly created position.

Porter, who most recently signed a first-look deal at Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios (Daily Variety, Aug. 7, 2000), served as president of production for Julia Roberts shingle Shoelace Prods. for seven years.

While at Shoelace, Porter worked with producer Wendy Finerman as an exec producer on the Roberts/Susan Sarandon starrer “Stepmom.” He also set up “Sabrina” at Fox (he is shaping the project with playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton) and “The Women” at New Line.

With Porter’s deal now folded at Revolution, it is unclear whether the exec will bring over any projects to Fireworks.

In his new post, in which he will report to Daniel Diamond, prexy of Fireworks Pictures, Porter will spearhead the company’s development and production of features — big-budget, commercially driven studio fare as well as smaller indie titles.

“I am very impressed by Pliny’s brilliant creative flair and look forward to working with him as we strengthen our team here at Fireworks and advance our production slate,” Diamond said.

“The plan is to strategically step up production and position Fireworks as a serious supplier of high-quality studio pictures,” added Porter. “Given Fireworks’ position in the market, we have a tremendous opportunity to finance and produce a wide variety of pictures which make sense both commercially as well as artistically.”

Other exex tapped

In addition to Porter, Serena Brosio has also joined Fireworks Pictures as a creative exec. She will report to Porter and will primarily focus on finding material for development. She joins Fireworks from Internet syndicator Article27.

Angelina Duran has also joined the company as coordinator of acquisitions and co-productions, reporting to Fireworks VP of acquisitions and co-productions Bob Aaronson. She joins the company from her former post as director of development for Springburn Pictures, where she worked for Craig Ferguson on titles including “Saving Grace” and “The Big Tease.”

Fireworks currently has Paramount’s Keanu Reeves starrer “Hardball” in release (it also teamed with the studio on “Rat Race”). Company’s slate includes “Who Is Cletis Tout?” starring Christian Slater and Tim Allen, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival; Henry Bean’s controversial Sundance Prize winner “The Believer”; and Bob Gale’s “Interstate 60,” with James Marsden, Gary Oldman, Michael J. Fox and Amy Smart.

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