Giacchetto's plea, no 'Everlasting' peace
NEW YORK — After months of haggling, Artisan Entertainment and Haxan Films, have settled their long-running dispute by means of a $25 million-$30 million cash payment to Haxan.That company, led by “Blair Witch” directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, was irked at Artisan over profits on “Blair Witch.” Although the original pic grossed $142 million domestically and $100 million overseas, Haxan complained that Artisan was dipping too far into the trough. Haxan charged that Artisan was laying off as much as $75 million-$80 million on marketing costs that didn’t exist. Under the company’s original deal for the pic, Sanchez and Myrick were to receive $250,000 for every $2 million in grosses above $10 million. When the pic hit $142 million, that meant more than $16 million just from domestic B.O. But Artisan technically could deduct overall marketing costs against a final gross tally. Though a final figure was never disclosed, Artisan chose to go sell-through on the video release, which created higher marketing costs than those associated with video rental. The “Blair Witch” team hired attorney Bert Fields, who launched an investigation and started discussions with Artisan but never filed an actual lawsuit. As a result of the settlement, Artisan will not have to assume any blame and will not be audited. Artisan will distribute “Heart of Love,” which Haxan is producing. And it will finance a prequel to “Blair Witch,” over which Sanchez and Myrick will have total creative control as writer-directors. Both had to take a back seat on “Blair Witch 2,” which grossed just $26 million domestically last year. Artisan and Endeavor agent Phil Raskind, who repped the Haxan team in its original deal with Artisan, had no comment on the settlement. GIACCHETTO GOES GALACTIC: Dana Giacchetto, former financial adviser to the stars, was left dangling at his sentencing Wednesday. Though he once partied with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Michael Ovitz, Giacchetto looked hopelessly alone in his blue prison scrubs as he stood in the courtroom in front of Judge Robert Patterson. Only his parents and girlfriend Allegra Brosco showed up to stand by him. They, like Giacchetto, burst into tears when he launched into a surreal, reach-for-the-stars plea for leniency that left the courtroom stunned. Giacchetto virtually blamed his incarceration on the desertion of his friends: “I’m not the one-dimensional con the press has made me out to be,” he declared. Patterson wouldn’t hear a word of it and said simply that the press Giacchetto chastised was the same one he chased for so many years. As for the stars, defense attorney Ron Fischetti named a few deserters. “The first name (in Dana’s address book) is Ben Affleck and the last one is Q-Tip,” Fischetti said. “I’ve spoken to a number of them who said, ‘Dana has helped me.’ But no one would get involved.” Giacchetto will likely serve three years at a minimum-security prison. As for Sherry Vigdor, who was swindled out of $282,000, she said it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. “I trusted you and you lied over and over,” she told Giacchetto in court. “You knew I inherited money. You took me by the hand and said you’d help me through it. You devastated my life.” To which a tearful Giacchetto could only reply, “Sorry.” NO ‘EVERLASTING’ PEACE: Jerome O’Connor, the bar owner who was one of the producers on “An Everlasting Piece,” is tearing out his hair — or should that be hairpiece? — over DreamWorks’ dismissal of his film. O’Connor, through his attorney Russell Smith, filed a $10 million lawsuit Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court against DreamWorks for reneging on its promise to distribute the $15 million pic in good faith. Helmed by Barry Levinson, pic is about two Irish barbers — one Catholic, one Protestant — who try to corner the local market on toupee sales. Along the way, the film lambastes both the IRA and the British government. DreamWorks opened “Piece” on Christmas Day, but yanked it from theaters a week later. Though he doesn’t sport much evidence, O’Connor charges that DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg was in cahoots with the British government and Prime Minister Tony Blair because he was about to be knighted, which actually happened last week. He cites an example of DreamWorks’ skittishness when he describes the argument Levinson had with DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg over the inclusion of one political scene in the film. According to O’Connor, “Katzenberg said, ‘If you don’t take it out, we’ll kill the movie.’ “ Levinson refused and the film ran as is. O’Connor was simply miffed because the studio completely abandoned the film “at the request of the British government,” according to the lawsuit. “All they had to do was release the movie on Christmas Day,” O’Connor fumes. “They went overboard and tried to kill it.” DreamWorks says the “Piece” charges are baseless and ridiculous. “The film didn’t work because it didn’t make any money,” says DreamWorks marketing head Terry Press. True enough. To date, the pic has grossed just $73,000 domestically. But according to O’Connor, DreamWorks initially said it would be released on 800 screens. It opened on eight and was pulled after a week. O’Connor says Levinson and producer Mark Johnson are refusing to get behind him because they’re afraid of DreamWorks. Johnson could not be reached for comment. SCHMIDT’S POST-OCTOBER REBIRTH: John Schmidt is resurfacing nearly two years after October Films imploded. Some 18 months ago, when Schmidt and Bingham Ray dissolved the indie in which they partnered with Scott Greenstein, Schmidt and Ray were left hanging. Greenstein went on to convince Barry Diller to create USA Films (currently riding high with Steven Soderbergh’s hit “Traffic”) and fold October into it. Schmidt and Ray settled out — and then disappeared. Ray recently announced he’s launching the film division, in which he’ll be a partner, of Crossroads Films, a Gotham-based film and TV company. Schmidt, best known in industry circles for his financial acumen, is building a digital studio called Content Films, with producer Ed Pressman. The pair is financing and producing feature-length films shot on digital. Schmidt could not be reached for comment, but sources close to him say an announcement is forthcoming. (If you have information or just gripes, please contact Dan Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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