‘Ruff’ start for finance, distrib firm

Actioner kicks off exclusive seven-pic deal

Veteran film execs Neil Sacker and Julie Savay-Ross have partnered to launch international distribution and financing company Creative Union Entertainment, which has greenlit the Wesley Snipes actioner “When the Ride Is Ruff.” Snipes will also produce the pic through his Amen-Ra Prods.

“Ruff” kicks off an exclusive seven-picture financing, production and worldwide distribution deal between CUE and producers Rudy Langlais (“The Hurricane”) and his partner, “Benny and Joon” director Jeremiah Chechik of Nightrain, and Smokestack Prods.’ Jeffrey Klein and Chris Bongirne.

Snipes will portray a man blamed for the brutal murder of the leader of an opposing motorcycle club and has days to prove his innocence or face the wrath of motorcycle gangs across the country.

Victor McGauley will also produce, in association with Langlais and Klein. Sacker and Ross are executive producers of the picture, scheduled to go before the cameras in February 2002 and to feature a soundtrack to be produced by Wakeen and Sye Dean of Interscope division Ruff Ryder Entertainment.

Other pictures to follow under the deal are a war action-drama set in the Philippines, “Children of the Dust,” penned by Matt George, and “The Life and Death of William Freeman,” the story of a man with no recollection of his past who finds himself the subject of a citywide crime war. Commercials helmer Rob Travino penned and is slated to make his feature debut with the pic.

CUE is also launching a slate of titles for international distribution that include Jim Caviezel starrer “Madison,” based on the true story of the river town of Madison, Indiana and its efforts during the hydroplane racing season of 1971. Pic preemed at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

In addition, CUE is finalizing financing and will handle foreign distribution on “The Wedding Contract,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray, as well as the drama “The Italian.” Both were introduced to the market through Savay-Ross’ international distribution company, Voltaire Entertainment Group, which is now folded into CUE.

Sacker, who holds the title of CEO at CUE, began his entertainment career as an attorney at Warner Bros. Pictures, where he was promoted to senior counsel. He also served as executive VP business and legal affairs at Miramax, president of worldwide business and legal affairs at Destination Films and co-president of Miracle Pictures.

Savay-Ross, who is CUE’s president and chief operating officer, first worked in international distribution for Cori Intl., followed by a position at Promark Entertainment Group, where she became director, international sales and administration. In 1995, she joined Initial Entertainment Group, where she was promoted to VP of international distribution. She met Sacker at Miracle Entertainment, where she held the post of president of international distribution.

Also joining CUE is VP of international distribution Yarek Danielak. Reporting to Savay-Ross, the former Fahrenheit Films founder will handle all aspects of international distribution for the company’s slate of pictures. Working with Sacker and CUE consultants Joe Woolf (former head of Union Bank), and former Warners exec Kirk Stambler, Danielak will also look to develop the company’s relationships with film production funds.

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