NEW YORK — Former Showtime programming prexy Jerry Offsay has resurfaced with production shingle Parkchester Pictures, and plans to raise the Dead with his first feature.
Offsay has acquired rights to “Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road With the Grateful Dead,” a book written by Steve Parish, who spent 30 years with the band as roadie and senior tour manager, and journalist Joe Layden. The band has pledged to cooperate on the project: guitarist and singer Bob Weir will write the music for the film.
Offsay, who spent a decade running movie and series programming for Showtime, left the executive suite and stepped into a first-look deal with Paramount Pictures, Showtime and CBS.
He tapped Amy Duzinski to run the film development side of Parkchester. Running the TV side will be David Gadarian, who most recently worked for Bob Levinson, ICM’s head of worldwide television, and who before that worked for Twentieth TV in comedy development.
A pic about the Grateful Dead seems a surprise move, but it harkens back to Offsay’s origins. He began his career as a music lawyer at Loeb & Loeb, repping the Stigwood Organization and making many soundtrack deals. Pics he exec produced, like “Hamburger Hill,” always had strong soundtracks.
While Offsay didn’t exactly describe himself as a Deadhead, he was fascinated by the Jerry Garcia-led group’s durability, and the rabid following of devotees.
Offsay thought the electricity at a Dead concert could provide great movie moments, but he needed a narrative and protagonist. He found both when agent Mickey Freiberg introduced him to the band’s roadie and senior tour manager Parish, who was also Garcia’s friend. Pic will make Parish the focus.
“There is an opportunity to put onscreen the feeling of what it was like being at a Dead concert while using Steve’s perspective as an outsider who went along for the ride with the band,” Offsay said. “The challenge now is getting a writer to use his book to find the heart of the story.”
Offsay, who’ll take the project first to Paramount, said he’s been promised access to the group’s music, but will make no deal until a studio is onboard. Offsay also said he and Duzinski are working to close other development deals.
Since exiting Showtime, Offsay has continued to shepherd seven pics hatched through Showtime’s Independent Films, exec producing “Speak,” “The Best Little Thief in the World,” “Bereft,” and the Mario Van Peebles pic “Baadasssss,” which is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.