‘Fur’ flies for New Line, HBO banner

Hebrew-language 'He'Ushpizin' also on slate

A correction was made to this article on May 17, 2005.

At least three titles are expected to be announced Friday when HBO Films and New Line Cinema unveil the name and other details of their new specialty film banner.

Newly minted topper Bob Berney is expected to announce that the shingle’s first titles include Nicole Kidman-starrer “Fur” and “Ha’Ushpizin,” an Israeli pic that bowed Stateside at the recent Tribeca Film Festival.

Currently in production under “Secretary” helmer Steven Shainberg, “Fur” is a River Road-financed drama about the life of shutterbug Diane Arbus. Pic stars Kidman opposite Robert Downey Jr.

Based on a biography by Patricia Bosworth, “Fur” reteams Shainberg with “Secretary” scribe Erin Cressida Wilson. Bill Pohlad, Laura Bickford, Bonnie Timmermann and Andrew Fierberg are producing, with Vin Farrell co-producing and Ed Pressman exec producing. Overseas it will be handled by New Line International.

The Hebrew-language “Ha’Ushpizin” is an insider depiction of ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem and reps the first collaborative effort between Israel’s religious and secular communities, directed by Giddi Dar and spearheaded by thesp-scripter Shuli Rand. The film received the critics’ award at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival, with Rand named as best actor by the Israeli Film Academy.

The pickups suggests a company with wide-ranging tastes. “Fur” reps a high-profile star turn from an breakout arthouse filmmaker — the kind of project that might once have inspired Miramax Films to pounce.

“Ha’ushpizin” is a wild card, a category that’s become Berney’s professional signature. A gently comic take on the life of modern-day Orthodox Jews sounds like minor, not boffo, B.O. — a criticism also levied at prior Berney hits “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “The Passion of the Christ.”

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