Duo to collaborate closely on some projects, loosely on others
Veteran producer Lynda Obst has formed an alliance with producer Michael Besman (“About Schmidt”) at her Paramount-based shingle and reupped her deal with the studio.
“Michael and I have been friends and allies since ‘Adventures in Babysitting,’ ” Obst told Daily Variety. “It’s exciting this has come to fruition at a time when producers need to band together.”
Obst dubbed the arrangement with Besman a “working alliance” under which the duo will collaborate closely on some projects and loosely on others; Dana Scanlon will continue as head of development. She credited president of Paramount Pictures John Goldwyn with encouraging the alliance in the wake of acclaim for “About “Schmidt,” also produced by Harry Gittes.
“I can’t imagine a better partnership than Lynda Obst and Michael Besman,” Goldwyn said. “They’re both extremely gifted and tasteful, and their collaboration will yield pictures that are both commercial and distinctive.”
Besman’s resume includes serving as an exec with Par, Guber-Peters, Sony and TriStar, with involvement in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” “Batman,” “Single White Female,” “Jumanji,” “As Good as It Gets” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” which Obst exec produced. He exec produced “Seven Years in Tibet” and produced “Opposite of Sex” and “Bounce.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity since Lynda’s been my friend and mentor, plus it’s great to be back at Paramount,” Besman said. Obst and Par have extended her producing deal amid studio bullishness over prospects for “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” produced by Obst, Robert Evans and Christine Peters and starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
Obst is also producing romantic comedy “Can You Keep a Secret?,” based on the Sophie Kinsella novel the studio bought recently as a starring vehicle for Hudson. Other Par projects in development by Obst include “Tiny Boyfriend,” with Seann William Scott attached to star; “Grave Goods,” an archaeological romantic thriller in the vein of “Romancing the Stone”; “Celeste,” a romantic comedy on the fast track; and family drama “American Pastoral,” based on Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Obst, a former journalist, began her Hollywood career in 1979 as a development exec for Peter Guber’s Casablanca/Polygram; she began producing in 1985 at Par and moved to Columbia and Fox before returning in 1999. She also wrote the 1996 bestseller “Hello, He Lied.”
Obst’s other exec producing credits include “Contact” and “Bad Girls”; producer credits include “The Fisher King,” “Hope Floats,” “The Siege” and “Abandon.”