Pitt's Plan B shingle lands new home
The town’s two Brads are back in business. Paramount Pictures has inked a three-year first-look deal with Plan B, the production shingle founded by Brad Grey, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.Par deal marks the end of Plan B’s first-look pact with Warner Bros. Pictures. Shingle also now has just one principal owner — Pitt. Aniston, who’s filed for divorce from Pitt, will remain involved in an unspecified number of Plan B projects set up at Warners but is no longer a partner in his company. Deal starts a new chapter for a shingle that burst on the scene three years ago and quickly amassed a sizable production slate. Questions have swirled around Plan B’s future since January, when Grey ankled Brillstein-Grey Entertainment and assumed the chairmanship of Paramount. In February, Pitt and Aniston announced they were splitting up, giving rise to speculation that Plan B might not endure. “It’s great personally and obviously fantastic from a professional standpoint to be bringing Brad and my old friends and colleagues from Plan B over as one of our first major production deals for the studio,” Grey told Daily Variety. Plan B still has a number of projects that will remain in the Warners pipeline. They include “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” produced with Scott Free and starring Pitt; “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” produced with David Heyman; “Shantaram,” produced with Graham King and Johnny Depp; “The Hatfields and the McCoys”; and “A Mighty Heart,” based on the book written by slain journalist Danny Pearl’s widow, Mariane Pearl. “The Assassination of Jesse James,” in which Pitt will star, is currently in pre-production under helmer Andrew Dominic. With Grey’s appointment at Par, it was obvious to Warners that Plan B might want to go with him. Details of the negotiations between the parties over the relocation were not disclosed. But Par and Warners have reason to accommodate each other: They’re teaming on serial-killer thriller “Zodiac,” to be helmed by David Fincher, and Pitt is set to star in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” another co-production also to be directed by Fincher. It’s not clear which Plan B projects Aniston will be involved in at Warners or in what capacity. Plan B’s creative team is led by president Dede Gardner (who ankled Paramount as an exec VP in late 2003 to take the Plan B post), along with execs Kristin Hahn, Jeremy Kleiner and Kassie Evashevski. Par also said Brillstein-Grey partners Cynthia Pett-Dante — Pitt’s longtime manager — and Jon Liebman will play significant roles in Plan B’s operations in the future. Plan B will remain in its Beverly Hills headquarters. Pitt’s shingle already has several projects in development at Paramount. They include “True Story,” based on the book by former New York Times reporter Michael Finkel. That project, based on the events that unfolded after a murder suspect stole Finkel’s identity, will be directed by Kevin MacDonald with Gardner and Kleiner overseeing. Plan B also is developing “Glass Castle” at Par, based on the memoir of New York columnist Jeanette Walls and centered on a woman dealing with her homeless upbringing as the child of an alcoholic father and mentally unbalanced mother. Anne Meredith is writing the screenplay, with Gardner and Hahn overseeing. In addition to Plan B projects in development at Warners, Plan B and Richard Zanuck produced “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for Warners, which opens the fantasy-comedy July 15. Plan B’s also in production on “The Departed,” with Grey and Graham King producing for Warners. Martin Scorsese is helming with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon toplining. The shingle’s “Running With Scissors,” written and directed by Ryan Murphy, is currently in post-production for TriStar. Pitt is already in two pics for Paramount — “Babel,” directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and produced by Anonymous Content; and the Warners co-production “Benjamin Button.” “Babel” is currently in production; “Button” is expected to begin shooting in 2006. Grey told Daily Variety that Aniston was a “great friend and a great talent.” The studio topper said Pitt is at the top of his acting game, in addition to being a tasteful and hard-working producer. Par’s pact with Plan B comes amid moves by Grey and new prexy Gail Berman aimed at reinventing Paramount as a studio emphasizing edgy fare, prestige projects and pics aimed at a younger audience. Paramount signed its first producing deal under Berman’s tenure last month when it inked indie producer Jason Blum to a first-look pact.