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‘Minutes’ helmer clocks in

Avnet signs on for Pacino starrer

Jon Avnet has come aboard to direct Al Pacino starrer “88 Minutes.”

Drama, a co-production of Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films and Randall Emmett and George Furla’s Emmett/Furla Films, is set for an Oct. 15 start in Vancouver. Emmett, Lerner and Gary Thompson will produce with Avnet.

Scripted by Thompson, who hatched “The Fast and the Furious” and created the NBC series “Las Vegas,” “88 Minutes” focuses on a college professor who moonlights as a forensic psychiatrist for the FBI. The prof must use his sleuthing skills to save his hide after he’s told that he’ll be killed in 88 minutes.

Project was put together last year with Pacino and director James Foley but stalled. In stepped Avnet, who directed such films as “Fried Green Tomatoes” but has been more busy lately as the producer of films including the recently completed Bob Edwards-directed “Land of the Blind” and stage productions such as the Tony-winning “Spamalot” and “Pillowman.” Though Avnet directed the TV miniseries “Uprising” in 2001 and the series pilot for “Boomtown,” his most recent feature was “Red Corner” in 1997.

New project is his first with Pacino.

The drama is being made under a pre-existing production, financing and distribution deal between Millennium and Emmett/Furla. That pact led to “16 Blocks,” the Richard Donner-directed pic that just wrapped with Bruce Willis; the Neil La Bute-directed “The Wicker Man”; and the Bruce Beresford-helmed “The Contract,” which started production this week.

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