Invitation’s open for pix

Shingle already pacted with Goldberg for 'Witness'

Producer and former manager Ron Samuels is building a film and TV production company, Invitation Entertainment, with real estate mogul Judah Hertz.

Samuels, whose credits include the “Iron Eagle” franchise, said his goal is to produce and fully finance two films per year.

Hertz, chairman-CEO of the L.A.-based Hertz Co., is among a handful of real estate investors breaking into the movie biz. His company owns buildings all over the U.S., including the Wiltern Center, Union Bank Plaza and Standard Oil Building in Los Angeles.

Invitation already has several projects on its development slate.

Shingle has pacted with Whoopi Goldberg shingle Whoop Prods. to produce “Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany,” based on the memoir of Hans J. Massaquoi, the former managing editor of Ebony. Film will include a failed attempt to join the Hitler Youth.

First up, though, is “The Other Side of Silence.” Scribe and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Claudia Hunter Johnson is penning the screenplay. Story revolves around the real-life case of Ruby McCullum, the first African-American woman sentenced to death in Florida.

Invitation also is tapping into another real-life story, that of notorious L.A. drug kingpin Ricky Ross, who helped set off the crack epidemic in the U.S., allegedly with the help of the Nicaraguan Contras and the CIA. Invitation is producing “Freeway Ricky Ross” with Shelly Fontana and Aaron Courseault and has hired Thomas Michael Donnelly to write the screenplay.

On the TV side, Invitation is developing “Momo,” a six-hour miniseries for TNT based on the life of mob boss Sam Giancana that Samuels is exec producing with Mark Wolper. Dimitri Logothetis and Nicholas Celozzi, Giancana’s nephew, wrote the script.

Samuels, who most recently produced the TV pic “Jane Doe,” starring Teri Hatcher, was most prolific as a manager in the 1970s, boasting a client list that included Lindsay Wagner, Jaclyn Smith, Robert Conrad and Lynda Carter, his ex-wife.

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