Studio makes overtures

Malone shingle wooing celebs

Two weeks after Tom Cruise revived United Artists, Overture Pictures is trying to build a filmmaking roster populated by veterans of UA and MGM.

Lawrence Bender, John Malkovich, Bennett Miller, Robert Simonds, Fisher Stevens, Michael Stipe, George Tillman, Robert Teitel and Irwin Winkler are among the producers being wooed by John Malone’s newly minted studio.

The filmmakers worked with Overture CEO Chris McGurk and chief operating officer Danny Rosett when the execs headed MGM and UA, respectively. The pics included Miller’s “Capote,” Malkovich’s “Ghost World,” Simonds’ “The Pink Panther,” Stevens’ “Uptown Girls,” Stipe’s “Saved!” Winkler’s “De-Lovely” and Tillman-Teitel’s “Barbershop.”

Starz CEO Robert Clasen, who oversees Overture, told Daily Variety that McGurk and Rosett have greenlight authority.

“I think that you always try to bring in the relationships that you’ve already had success with when you’re starting,” Clasen said. “The expectation is that we want to know who the audience is for our films. We’re not going to be in the tentpole business.”

Overture plans to produce, acquire and release eight to 12 pics a year for $30 million and less, with the first releases coming out as early as the second quarter of 2007. The slate is expected to draw from almost all genres.

Clasen said Overture plans to initially acquire about 40% of its slate, a figure that should diminish over time.

The previously announced venture will operate as a subsidiary of Malone’s Liberty Media holding company. McGurk was brought on as a consultant to build a theatrical distribution and live-action production unit back in April.

Overture will be a subsidiary of Starz LLC, which also operates the Starz Entertainment premium TV business along with homevid, TV production, animated film and international sales that were combined last August when Liberty Media purchased IDT.

“Starz is now a fully integrated media company with the ability to produce any kind of programming and distribute that programming across all platforms,” Clasen said.

It’s also the first time a Malone entity has involved itself in film production and distribution.

McGurk’s previous jobs included vice chairman and chief operating officer of MGM between 1999 and 2005, president and chief operating officer of Universal Pictures and prexy of Walt Disney’s Motion Picture Group.

Rosett is the former prexy of United Artists.

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